*Ben Carson paid an uncomfortable visit to Cairo, Illinois recently and saw firsthand the devastating results of his party’s politics.
Hundreds of low-income families are being pushed out of their homes in the city as a result of decisions Carson has made in his first few months as HUD secretary.
The pair of housing projects at risk have become notorious across the state in the past two years for chronic and possibly criminal mismanagement, sewage backups in parking lots and lawns, dangerous mold, and broken or nonexistent smoke alarms — but HUD’s decision to tear the Elmwood and McBride apartments down rather than fix them leaves 400 Americans looking down the barrel of homelessness.
OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Mathew Knowles Sells ‘Music World Entertainment’ Property Where Destiny’s Child Was Launched
Many of those residents showed up to meet with Carson Tuesday in what NPR called “a hastily organized forum.”
“I think it’s a political thing, the reason why he’s coming down here,” McBride Apartments resident Melvin Duncan told the radio news group. “He already sent a letter saying ‘it’s unfortunate but we can’t help you.'”
Elmwood resident Steven Tarver told local television reporters Carson’s visit “was just more of a ‘frequent flyer miles’ trip for him and the rest of the people who came. It was a beautiful setting, but as usual we have to got back into the trenches and do what’s best for our own.”
Cairo residents have been waiting several months to learn the fate of Elmwood and McBride. Back in February, federal officials took over management of the Alexander County Housing Authority. It was previously estimated that “the two tumbledown complexes needed about $7.5 million of immediate work to render the apartments habitable, and another $37.5 million of work over the next two decades to remain that way.”
“In early April, HUD announced it would close and destroy the nearly 40 buildings that make up the two projects — and would not rebuild them.”
The thinkprogress report also notes that “Carson’s staff told residents to expect housing vouchers which they could use to find new homes, but were given little other detail.”