Housing crisis inspired Cairo, IL 6th grade students to write to Dr. Ben Carson

Housing crisis inspired Cairo, IL 6th grade students to write to Dr. Ben Carson

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - Due to the housing crisis in Cairo, Illinois people are speaking out including even the youngest of residents.

Sixth graders in the Cairo School District decided to write to Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of US Dept of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC.

Dr. Carson wrote back to them.

"Because the people in Cairo it makes Cairo what it is…if the people move from Cairo then there would be nothing here," Latrece Brooker said

This 6th grader wrote one of the letters to Dr. Ben Carson. Brooker and her family of 5 live in McBride Housing complex that's being demolished.

"That would mean I would stay here and school, the school wont close down. We would be with our friends and family and we will stay here in our hometown," Brooker said

Brooker and 21 of her classmates wrote these letters in their social studies class as a part as a part of a civil rights unit. Teacher Mary Beth Goff came up with the idea of having her students use their voices for social change .

"Stop and think and realize that These kids are our future," Goff said. "Their voices are important so I'm trying to teach them to be citizens who are thinking about or being informed so they can impact change for themselves and other people too."

After the 6th graders exercised their voice to speak out about a crisis in their community this was Dr. Carson's response.

"There are no economically viable strategies currently available HUD to restore ACHA's financial health. Tenant protection vouchers are the best immediate option to move families to safe and healthy living conditions…relocating families is not something we do without extensive thoughts, research, and candidly, a fair amount of handwriting. We understand the deep ties and devotion for the place where one is born and raised. We can't feel what the people of Cairo feel, but please understand this is not a decision without feeling." -Dr. Ben Carson

Unfortunately, when the class received the letter back from Dr. Carson, they were disappointed in his response.

"Im not sure the the response they got was a great experience," Goff said. "But that's reality. That's their reality.  And so  you just have to kind take that and pick up the pieces and help them deal with that."

"I have a lot of friends that live there. Like a a lot. And when they move..everybody is going different ways," 6th grader Gabriella Lyas said. "That's going to make me feel sad and heartbroken because they're my friends, they are really close to me."

The superintendent said this relocation could cause potentially 40% of the students to not return in the fall.

"This is their lives, these are their circumstances, this is their family and many of the kids that's all they've known," Dr. Andrea Everes, Superintendent said. "They have lived in the same apt or same neighborhood for their entire lives. And so when you are a 12 year child and y ou don't know where you will be in 3 months, that's very unsettling. I don't care what the conditions of your home are."

Dr. Ben Carson sent the same letter to all of the students, and a longer version to the superintendent.

Dr. Carson says replacing the units would cost $70 million, which Alexander County Housing cant afford.

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