- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

CAIRO, Ill. (AP) - Illinois political leaders have asked federal housing authorities to find adequate and safe housing for 185 families ordered this week to relocate from two public housing developments in southern Illinois.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to move residents of the Alexander County Housing Authority properties in May due to concerns such as poor heating and mold, The Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/2p70oBj ) reported.

Federal housing officials said there was no plan to provide new housing and that residents would be given vouchers and have their moving expenses paid.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, saying that “strong federal action is welcome” after years of misuse and mismanagement of funds by county housing officials. The senators also wrote a separate letter to Inspector General David Montoya, who leads department’s investigatory arm.

“This is a massive undertaking for HUD, and it will require close dialogue with local authorities and residents to mitigate the destabilizing effects of relocation - not only for the affected families, but for the city of Cairo, which is already suffering the consequences of population decline,” the senators said in a joint statement following the department’s announcement Monday.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost said he will continue to work with Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman and other local officials to provide housing and sustain the city.

“We’re all working and praying for the best outcome for local families,” Bost said.

The McBride and Elmwood apartment complexes were built in 1942 and include nearly 280 housing units across nearly 40 buildings. The units at the two developments currently are about 66 percent occupied. Units have been left vacant as residents have moved out over the past year.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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