HUD Secretary Ben Carson responds to Cairo, Illinois, letters

Students and teachers in Cairo, Illinois, recently wrote letters to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after it was announced that two housing complexes would be torn down. HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson has responded.

In the letter written to Cairo Superintendent Dr. Andrea Evers, Carson wrote: "I’ve had teams of experts searching for any viable solution to preserve affordable housing opportunities in Cairo, from rebuilding to utilizing manufactured housing. Sadly, there are very limited viable financial options for a nearly bankrupt housing authority."

HUD last month decided to tear down McBride and Elmwood apartments. Around 400 people, 180 families, will be displaced from their homes and forced to find new affordable housing.

Evers says the letter decided the fate of 400 people. "I know, Dr. Carson, that this decision was not rendered easily, but that’s also a decision made from Washington," she said. "When you’re here on the grounds in this community every day, you know that this decision will destroy the fabric of a community."

This decision gives people like Paul Lambert, who has lived there for 39 years, about four months to find a new place to call home. Lambert said he hasn’t been given much information, but that is all he knows. "They said they don’t have enough money to keep the apartments going, and they’re going to have a voucher. And you have to take the voucher, and move wherever you go with the voucher."

Lambert said this just shows people don’t care about Cairo.

"People don’t really care unless it happens to them. This is somebody else’s problem. This isn’t their problem directly, so if it (doesn’t) affect you and if it (doesn’t) fall in your lap, you really don’t care," said Lambert.

He said he’s going to keep fighting for better living conditions.

Evers said they can make it through this, because Cairo has made it through worse. "Cairo is one of the most resilient places ever."