Senator Durbin talks housing crisis with Cairo 7th graders - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Senator Durbin talks housing crisis with Cairo 7th graders

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ALEXANDER COUNTY -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin stopped in Cairo Tuesday morning, he's looking into the town's public housing issues after families were forced from the McBride and Elmwood complexes due to mismanagement by the Alexander County Housing Authority.

It's a problem that not only still has parents worried, but also students at Cairo Jr. High.

The housing crisis could result in nearly half the students and their families having to find a new home and the students being forced into a new school, which is why leaving his classmates at Cairo Jr. High would be heartbreaking for Demarion Duncan.

"Because I like being in school down here and I've been here my whole life," explained Duncan.

Now, Duncan may be forced from the only school and community he's ever known 

"I like staying down here because of the community," added Duncan.

His new friend Kyle Cook doesn't want to see classmates forced from their homes either.

"It makes me mad that people think this town is a lost cause," explained Cook.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and others in Washington will have to convince the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development to fund new section 8 housing, and after years of mismanagement of $25 million by the Alexander Housing Authority it may be a tough sell to HUD Secretary Ben Carson who said this about Cairo in June.

"This unfortunately is a dying community," said Carson.

Senator Durbin says HUD cuts by President Trump's administration have put a hardship on an already tough situation in Cairo.

"It's a bad time in Washington to be looking for initiative and leadership in this area but we're going to continue to try," said Durbin.

Senator Durbin said so far, Congress has taken no action on new housing for families at Elmwood and McBride.

And if new subsidized housing in Cairo doesn't happen, Cairo Superintendent Andrea Evers says the school could lose nearly half its students and their families to other towns.

"If you pull away from the what's happening to the who it's happening to that's the most important thing," said Evers.

Something even new students at Cairo Jr. High realize.

"I can't help but to think about all the families that are about to lose their homes because of this," added Cook.

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