Metro-East News

Housing authority control will soon be given back to East St. Louis

East St. Louis will soon regain control of its housing authority, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s receivership administrator.

Bill Tamburrino, who has been receivership administrator since April 1 and director of HUD’s Baltimore Public Housing Program Hub, announced during a meeting Thursday that the receivership “is coming to an end very soon.”

He said HUD is planning to transition the housing authority back to local control by the end of August.

In 1985, HUD determined that the East St. Louis Housing Authority had substantially failed to meet its obligation as required by law. So, HUD took over the East St. Louis Housing Authority, its projects and programs, as allowed by law. Since that time, the East St. Louis Housing Authority has been under HUD control.

Later, there were failed efforts to put the housing authority under the control of the St. Clair County Housing Authority.

In 2015, East St. Louis filed suit seeking to have control returned to the city, but a federal judge ruled the courts have no authority to rule on the matter.

Cenola Miller, who attended the meeting, said she was excited to hear the news.

“They wanted to take it to Belleville, but we fought hard and long to get it back to the city. We need our own East St. Louis Housing Authority. We are a city that has nothing. The majority of the people lived here the majority of their lives. This is one of the first places they could move into because of their financial status. There weren’t too many jobs available when they got here from the South. The Housing Authority was a rescue for them. Traveling all the way to Belleville would put an additional hardship on people who are already suffering,” Miller said.

Also during the meeting, retired St. Clair County Judge Milton S. Wharton proposed changing the name of the Samuel Gompers Homes, which is one of the buildings run by the East St. Louis Housing Authority.

Gompers was an American labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history who founded the American Federal of Labor (AFL).

Wharton said he would like to see the building renamed to honor someone of African-American heritage, such as George Washington Carver or Asa Phillip Randolph, who was a black civil rights movement and American labor movement leader.

Tamburrino said that unless significant changes are made to a structure, names are not changed. However, major changes are expected to happen at the Gompers Homes, and the name change will be looked at then, he said.