Southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth are calling on Congress to strengthen federal oversight of the housing crisis in Cairo.
They testified Tuesday before a hearing of the House Financial Services Housing Subcommittee. The topic concerned the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's failed oversight of the Alexander County Housing Authority.
"Issues with Cairo's housing authority were known to HUD for years, but little was done. It is my belief that had HUD taken these issues more seriously, we may not be here today," said Congressman Bost.
Duckworth said residents are still trying to recover from years of mismanagement by local and federal leaders.
"Many families are now split apart, living in separate counties, without the support of their loved ones. So, we must continue to listen to these residents and hold accountable the officials who failed them and created this crisis in Cairo."
A report from the inspector general said since 2010 HUD reviewed the ACHA and highlighted issues with its use of funds, conflicts of interest and failure to comply with HUD policies and federal civil rights laws. It also said the Alexander County Housing Authority failed HUD's assessment tool to determine if a unit is habitable since 2012.
But, officials waited to take the ACHA in its possession until 2016 because it was unsure of the process of how to do it. A formal policy is now in the works.
In early 2017, HUD said it would demolish two housing complexes in Cairo.