Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cairo IL: Housing bureaucrats live well while residents suffer in "third world" conditions

Cairo levee
At the southern tip of Illinois is Cairo--a tiny version of Detroit.

But despite the abject poverty--some government bureaucrats are living well despite overseeing "third world" conditions.

From the Southern Illinoisan:
While some of the state's poorest residents and children have been living in public housing here described as "third world" and unfit for humans, some employees and management of the Alexander County Housing Authority have collectively taken home hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars via questionable payments, bonuses, consultant contracts, retirement incentives and legal settlements in addition to their regular pay, according to federal and agency documents obtained by The Southern Illinoisan.

While denying any wrongdoing, even the agency's former executive director who authorized much of the spending, and much of it for himself, admitted that part of the agency’s financial disaster can be attributed to salaries, benefits and incentives that were "too fat" over the years.

Meanwhile, those who are living in the housing authority’s developments, particularly the two in Cairo designated family developments and that predominantly house African-American adults that are not elderly and dozens of children, have just been barely hanging on as housing conditions deteriorate and violence escalates.

At one family housing development, McBride Place, residents -- at least 97 percent of whom are African-American -- describe serious problems with roaches, rats and, on occasion, bed bugs. They describe calls to the management office to register problems that are not followed through on, or cases where staff are rude when they ask for something as simple as rat poisoning. In a small playground area at the complex sits a rusty jungle gym and a swing-set frame without any swings. Weeds are growing through the cracks of sidewalks, orange concrete barriers are placed at random locations in the parking lot, and low-voltage wiring, presumably for cable and Internet, is strung haphazardly across the exterior of the building.
When he was a candidate for the US Senate in 2004, Barack Obama made a campaign appearance in Cairo--which he recounted in his book The Audacity of Hope. Clearly Obama has forgotten about the people of Cairo.

My 2008 Cairo entries:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are correct in comparing Cairo to Detroit. I have driven through Cairo numerous times. It's a vast wasteland.