July 26, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Statement on Inspector General Report Evaluating HUD’s Oversight of Alexander Housing County Authority


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following the release of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report evaluating HUD’s oversight of the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA), which was taken into receivership by HUD two years ago, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued the following statement:

“There is no question that the residents of Elmwood and McBride suffered through decades of neglect, inadequate oversight, and outright discrimination.  The findings in the Inspector General report underscore what we’ve already known – HUD and the Alexander County Housing Authority failed the people of Cairo. HUD must enact policies that will prevent this from ever happening again.  We are committed to working closely with the Office of the Inspector General to exercise oversight over HUD and help ensure these recommendations are realized,” said Duckworth and Durbin. “We also urge the HUD Office of the Inspector General to complete its investigation into wrongdoing by Alexander County Housing Authority officials as soon as possible and make its findings public. It is unacceptable that no one has yet been held responsible.”

Earlier this month, Duckworth met with HUD Inspector General Nominee Rae Oliver Davis. Duckworth and Oliver Davis had an extensive conversation about Illinois housing priorities and the need for greater oversight to stop preventable crises like those in Cairo and Thebes, Illinois, from happening again. Durbin also met with HUD IG nominee, Ms. Oliver Davis, earlier this month, and discussed what her goals and priorities would be at HUD, and how the agency can provide greater oversight to ensure public housing residents have safe and healthy living conditions. Last year, Senators Duckworth and Durbin wrote multiple letters to the HUD Inspector General urging his office to complete its investigation into fraud, waste and mismanagement by Alexander County Housing Authority officials.

Since being sworn into the Senate in 2017, Duckworth has worked to address the challenges faced by ACHA residents, hold those responsible for the crisis accountable and improve the Cairo economy. Last year, both Duckworth and Durbin visited Cairo to meet with local officials, tour the city and hear directly from residents. Senators Duckworth and Durbin then met with HUD Secretary Carson in Washington, where they secured several commitments from the secretary on behalf of the residents. These commitments included Secretary Carson’s trip to Cairo, where Duckworth joined him. The details are outlined in a letter that is available here.

In January, Duckworth and Durbin introduced the Creating American Investment, Redevelopment, and Opportunity (CAIRO) Task Force Act to form a Cabinet-level task force to address the housing, health and economic crises in Cairo, Illinois, citing that HUD had a role in Cario’s economic decline, and therefore the federal government should play an active role in its recovery and revival. The CAIRO Act requires that the task force submit a report to Congress within six months of its establishment and each year after that outlines its progress. Full text of the bill is available here.