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Phelps blasts lack of HUD plan for Cairo

updated: 4/12/2017 9:49 AM

HARRISBURG -- State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, criticized a plan by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to close some federal public housing units in Cairo without having adequate replacement housing.

"I think it is a disgrace that officials from HUD do not have a plan to provide an adequate housing situation for these families, at a time when so many families throughout Southern Illinois are struggling," Phelps said. "While there are obvious problems and maintenance issues in the housing, evicting these families instead of improving their housing is wrong. Closing down the Alexander County Housing Authority's developments is not only devastating to the families affected, but to the Cairo community as a whole."

Phelps issued his statement following a meeting with HUD officials, in which it was announced that the residents of the housing developments of the Alexander County Housing Authority will be evicted in the coming months.

HUD on Monday announced 185 families will be moved from two public housing developments in Cairo. HUD plans to give those families vouchers as well as pay for transportation and relocation expenses. Few homes currently are available in or around Cairo, Cairo officials have said.

"This is another example of Southern Illinois being overlooked and getting the short end of the stick," Phelps said. "The closure of these housing developments will lead to many families choosing to leave Southern Illinois, or Illinois altogether. This move by HUD is only going to further increase the demand for affordable housing in Cairo.

"I'm focused on creating opportunities for families throughout Southern Illinois, and enacting economic reforms that lift up the middle class, but it's disappointing to see that HUD is working against our communities. The people being impacted by this closure have families and livelihoods. Rather than working to fix the problem, the decision by HUD is just going to shrug off the responsibility. I remain committed to doing my part and working with federal officials to help bring affordable and quality housing that the people of Cairo deserve."