Committee Examines Serious Allegations of Misconduct at Illinois Housing Authority

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Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee met today to examine the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) oversight of the Alexander County Housing Authority located in Cairo, Illinois.

“Today’s hearing was essential to help get to the bottom of the Alexander County Housing Authority’s (ACHA) troubling role in allowing living conditions in both the Elmwood and McBride housing developments to deteriorate so much that HUD has to demolish both of them and has taken over possession of the ACHA. Due to the actions of the ACHA, nearly 200 families will have to uproot their lives and move from Cairo, Illinois to another city.

“What’s even more frightening is this could just be the tip of the iceberg, as 50 other Public Housing Authorities have been designated as troubled by the HUD Inspector General. We have to make sure all 3,300 PHA’s comply with HUD’s policies and address health and safety hazards to make sure another situation like Cairo never happens again,” said Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI).

Key Takeaways

  • HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) failed the residents of the Alexander County (IL) Housing Authority since 2010 by inaction, bureaucratic wrangling, and a failure of leadership.
  • HUD identified issues with ACHA’s governance and attempted to bring the agency into compliance; however, efforts did not lead to a positive impact on the conditions at ACHA.
  • The HUD OIG report noted that HUD staff was “stunned…at what [hud] saw, not just in terms of deplorable living conditions that [hud] encountered but at the poor, even absent record keeping, the staggering backlog of critical repairs, all of this going to the very health and safety of the residents living there.”

Topline Quotes from Witnesses

“Today’s hearing is about government’s failure to protect the vulnerable among us. Most of you have never heard of Cairo, Illinois – but it’s time you had… Many of us first learned the extent of the problems at the public housing authority in Cairo through reports in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper… Many had no appliances, heating, or air conditioning… After my Illinois colleagues and I requested a federal investigation, HUD placed the housing authority into receivership… The cause of this tragedy comes down to two words: greed and neglect… The federal government must do a better job of conducting oversight, especially when it involves the health and safety of people in need.” – The Honorable Mike Bost of the 12th Congressional District of Illinois

“HUD identified issues with ACHA’s governance, including the misuse of funds, conflicts of interest, and a failure to comply with HUD policies and Federal civil rights laws… Despite HUD’s attempts to bring ACHA into compliance, its efforts did not resolve the negative conditions at ACHA. Residents continued to live in deplorable conditions as ACHA languished, and ACHA officials were generally uncooperative in addressing the negative conditions HUD identified… Although it may to be too late to save ACHA, as of June 2018, 50 other PHAs were designated as troubled. Therefore, we offer four recommendations to improve PIH’s administration and oversight of troubled PHAs.” – Jeremy Kirkland, Acting Deputy Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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