Ben Carson is quick to complain about poverty and broken communities, yet he creates policy that will only hurt these places. This is the case for Cairo, Illinois, which is located where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet. The town is nearly 70 percent Black and as one outlet said, it has endured “death by racism.” The town went through years of racial uprising and when river and railroad traffic declined, it was a huge hit to its economy. As early as 2011, the town endured a horrific flood. Cairo needs assistance and HUD, under Ben Carson, only wants to cut funds. Two months ago, at a hearing in Washington, D.C., Carson called Cairo a “dying community.” So what is he doing for Cairo? Not a damn thing.
A story in STLToday.com reports the community in Cairo is still hanging on, but it’s the housing crisis that might kill off the town completely. The article states, “HUD closed the Elmwood and McBride complexes in April 2017 because of years of mismanagement, displacing about a sixth of Cairo’s 2,400 residents. Cairo High School had just 97 students, the fewest in its history, when classes started soon after Carson’s visit. The town keeps shrinking — along with the solutions to stabilize it — as Illinois confronts an issue facing states across the country: whether to lift disadvantaged communities by reviving public housing or tell people to move on.” Reportedly, about 40 families remain in Elmwood and McBride’s livable units and HUD official told them they need to vacate by June 30. They were given public housing vouchers to move, but no word on how much the vouchers are and if they will simply move into another area that is beat down by poverty—which Carson believes make people “too comfortable.”
If Carson and Trump would stop blocking the Obama-era Small Area Fair Market Rent rule, which would allow people in low-income communities access to areas with better jobs and education, maybe the Cairo residents who are being kicked out would have an opportunity to improve their lives. This is why Carson’s proposal for rent increases on low-income households which requires those receiving federal housing subsidies to work is illogical and inhumane — especially considering the federal minimum wage is a low $7.25 per hour.
STLToday.com reports the town’s lifeline has been basketball, but even that is dwindling, “Cairo is in another downswing. The town is dying, one boarded-up housing unit at a time. This time, there is no hope.”
Sadly, under the Trump administration with Carson running HUD, they will let dying communities die off with no reverence to how it will affect the lives of people. Carson’s HUD proposal to increase rent and Trump’s fight to dismantle social safety nets will create more towns like Cairo throughout the country.