A couple of Illinois congressmen seek a federal investigation of a southern Illinois housing authority after discovering reports of misappropriated funds and substandard living conditions.
United States Senator Dick Durbin and United States Representative Mike Bost sent a letter friday to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro have his department follow up on a 2014 review of the Alexander County Housing Authority.
Previously, the review involved allegations of questionable spending, such as generous salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, benefits, retirement incentives, and travel stipends.
Meanwhile, some Alexander County properties were overrun with rodents, mildew, and Illinois mold, while the roads were lined with garbage. Reports of violence increased, and residents said even routine requests for repairs were neglected.
Alexander County is the poorest county in Illinois, with approximately one-third of its residents and more than half of its children living below the poverty line. Durbin and Bost noted in their letter that, statewide, about fourteen percent of Illinois residents are impoverished.
Durbin, a Democrat, and Bost, a Republican, joined forces to write, “Improper use of funds should not be tolerated in any case, but the county’s unique needs for federal assistance bring an additional level of urgency to these allegations.” Of course, Illinois mold, mildew, and rodent infestation leave no room for pause.
The county housing authority allegedly employed discriminatory practices as well after the review found that housing developments with the largest concentration of African-American families were living in the worst conditions.
The housing authority board hired Jefferson County Housing Authority director Tom Upchurch to a six-month contract in an effort to address the issues head-on. The board additionally entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the Housing and Urban Development department.
James Wilson, the longtime former executive director of the housing authority, claims he is not guilty of any criminal offense. He claimed that the housing authority wasn’t in a possition to handle cuts in federal funding when they happened.
No comment as of yet from Housing and Urban Development.