Durbin: Health and Safety of Alexander County Public Housing Residents Should be Number One Priority

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following an announcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that it will be taking possession of the Alexander County Housing Authority, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today said that the health and safety of public housing residents must be the number one priority during the transition.


“Though recent steps have been taken to address issues of mismanagement and misuse of funds within the Alexander County Housing Authority, HUD determined today that federal control of the housing authority was in the best interest of the residents,” said Durbin.  “We must be certain that their health and safety is the number one priority.  Over the last few weeks, I have heard from community officials, HUD representatives and tenants that are all committed to this goal.  I will continue to work with HUD, community officials, and the residents to see that swift changes are made to improve housing for the residents and that local control is restored as soon as possible.”


Following an August report by The Southern Illinoisan entitled “Chaos in Cairo” which found that the quality of life for residents at Alexander County Housing Authority had deteriorated and hundreds of thousands of federal dollars had been misused, Durbin joined with Representative Mike Bost (R-IL) in calling on HUD to investigate the allegations.  In the letter to HUD, the Illinois members wrote,


“Residents of public housing in Alexander County report accommodations that are substandard at best – buildings overrun by rodents and other vermin, issues with mold and mildew, and roads lined with garbage among other grievances.  An upswing in violent crime has added to resident concerns.  Many are housed in buildings that are over 70 years old that have not been properly maintained and may now be beyond repair.  Residents add that there is no proper recourse when calls go unacknowledged for even the most routine requests.”