Durbin Presses Carson About Trump Administration's Cuts To Public Housing In East St. Louis

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today, in a Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Services Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, pressed U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson about the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which calls for deep cuts in federal funding to HUD’s affordable housing programs. Durbin specifically mentioned his concerns about the proposal to eliminate the Public Housing Capital Fund, which provides annual funding to housing authorities to address repairs and maintenance issues. Like most public housing authorities nationwide, East St. Louis’ public housing units are aging and in need of immediate repair and rehabilitation—the city’s housing authority has estimated that it needs $42 million in immediate funding to address backlogged capital repairs and improve living conditions at its complexes.

“When I look at your budget and I looks at the two funds we can turn to in order to repair the public housing in East St. Louis, the Public Housing Operating Fund, your budget calls for cutting that by 38 percent. And then the Public Housing Capital Fund, you call for its elimination,” Durbin said. “What am I supposed to tell the folks in East St. Louis based on the President’s budget when it comes to the housing that they’re living in that’s not safe?”

Residents of the East St. Louis Housing Authority continue to report unsafe and hazardous living conditions, including maintenance repair requests that have gone unaddressed.  Last August, ProPublica published an investigative report revealing that in 2017, a HUD inspection gave nine East St. Louis housing complexes a failing score and found a total of 5,405 safety violations—24 percent of which HUD deemed life threatening.  Durbin emphasized to Secretary Carson the importance of supporting and expanding federal programs that our nation’s public housing authorities depend on to improve their buildings and improve the lives of their residents.   

Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks is available here for TV Stations.