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VICE News spent time with residents of Cairo last summer, where HUD officials announced that about 185 families would would be kicked out of two public apartment complexes.

Illinois State Capitol

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty

According to a report by Mother Jones, “The US Department of Housing and Urban Development had been debating what to do with public housing in Cairo for seven years and two presidential administrations, since federal inspections first uncovered grift, decay, and racial discrimination at the Alexander County Housing Authority. The mostly black residents of McBride and Elmwood, a sister project nearly two dozen blocks north that housed about 80 families, lived in squalor, while the white housing authority brass, under Executive Director James Wilson, blew public funds on boozy Vegas getaways and prioritized maintenance of the predominantly white high-rise across town. In the final year of the Obama administration, HUD placed the housing authority under receivership, but it left the future of Cairo’s public housing unresolved.”

“Cairo’s fate would be one of the first major housing policy decisions of the Trump era, offering a glimpse of which priorities were real and which ones weren’t.

HUD announced it was condemning the two projects. Residents would need to be out by July 2018, and HUD would give them vouchers for new apartments. The nicer high-rises across town, which had been favored with more attention and resources over the decades, would stay open, and a few residents would move into units there or find other arrangements nearby—but most of the African American families living in the segregated projects would have to leave Cairo. ”

Read Tim Murphy’s Full Investigative Report on Mother Jones 

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