EAST ST. LOUIS, IL – U.S. Representatives Mike Bost (IL-12) joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Harris, and other local officials at a press conference Thursday. The purpose was to announce the transition of the East St. Louis Public Housing Authority (ESLHA) back to local control after nearly 32 years of federal management.
“This is a big day for East St. Louis,” said Bost, who represents the area to Congress. “After speaking with Secretary Carson about the housing situations in East St. Louis and Cairo, I am proud he has visited both cities personally within the span of six weeks. You simply can’t overstate the significance of transitioning the ESLHA to local control after more than three decades of federal receivership. I am hopeful the new leadership will bring a renewed commitment to providing my constituents in East St. Louis safe and well-managed public housing.”
“This has been an extremely long road but we now feel confident there the necessary capacity in place to turn the keys back over to our local partners,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Running a housing authority isn’t easy, but it requires the very best of those who manage public housing because the folks who call these units home deserve nothing less.”
East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks said she had been working with HUD, the ESLHA and members of their Advisory Board for a year and a half to regain local control.
"We will continue to nurture our relationship with HUD and other public and private partners as East St. Louis reaches new heights. I am very appreciative of the outstanding residents who agreed to serve as ESLHA Board members and the city council's strong support of the new board.”
HUD took over operational control of the ESLHA on October 28, 1985, following years of deteriorating physical conditions, financial mismanagement and a lack of effective leadership.
Thursday’s announcement formally ends the first and longest federal receivership of a local public housing authority.
Under the terms of the Transition Agreement, the Mayor will appoint a five-member Board of Commissioners and HUD will transfer ESLHA’s assets, programs and projects to local control. The Board will work with the housing authority’s Executive Director Mildred Motley to oversee management of more than 2,000 public housing units as the local agency works to improve continuing physical and financial challenges.
My bet: A slum like Cabrini Green in five years.