A small town is in chaos. About 185 families will soon be removed from two derelict public housing units in Cairo, Illinois — but it’s not clear what will happen to them. And relocation efforts so far have only served to highlight the alarming shortage of affordable housing in the area.
In April, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials announced that more than 400 people would be kicked out of McBride and Elmwood apartment complexes because the buildings aren’t safe anymore. Residents had long complained about infestations of bedbugs and roaches, lead and arsenic levels in pipes, and mold. But the complaints were largely neglected or ignored by local housing authorities, who for years allegedly mismanaged and misspent millions of federal tax dollars. HUD finally stepped in last year to rectify the situation, but found no easy solution.
VICE News spent time with residents of Cairo this summer as they prepared for the unknown.
This episode of VICE News Tonight originally aired September 5, 2017, on HBO.