This is Cairo. 

Settled between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, lies the southern most city in the state of Illinois, Cairo. Cairo was once a home to over 15,000 people, but in 2014 the population was 2,576.

Fifteen percent of this population lives in the Elmwood and McBride public housing units. A housing report shows that after years of neglect, more than 1,300 health and safety issues remain at the housing complexes, including mold, infestation, lead paint and standing water. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has plans to demolish these units but not rebuild them, forcing generations of Cairo residents out of their homes. 

This is Cairo and these are the faces that call it home.

"There is only a pepper shake of people left."

A five year resident of the McBride complex and a lifelong resident of Cairo, Ill., Shayla Brooker describes her home and community as close and supportive in times such as these. 

"I want stay in Cairo but have no choice," Brooker said. "This is all my kids know and to uproot and move somewhere else is hard. This is our livelihood."

Shayla Brooker

"It doesn't really matter what anybody thinks they're ultimately going to do what they want."

Edward Harris visits a friend at the soon-to-be demolished McBride complex, Sunday, October 8. Harris grew up in Cairo, Ill., and has seen it transform into the town that it is today.

"I've lived all around here," Harris said. "I mean I've hopped from Chicago and all over but this is home."

Edward Harris

"I don't want him getting picked on if we have to move."

Neighbors, Angela Mitchell and Earlene Lyons enjoy an evening on their front porches at the Elmwood apartment complex. Both Earlene and Angela have started looking for places to move. Lyons fears the unknown. 

"My son, he's autistic, I'm afraid of how it'll affect him if we move schools," Lyons said. "He's used to the teachers and students at his school and they give him the help he needs. I don't want him getting picked on if we have to move."

Angela Mitchell & Earlene Lyons

"Born and Raised."

Although she is not a resident, DeShawna Washam brings her 5-month-old son, Devoe Johnson, to visit his dad at the Elmwood apartment complex.

"I was born and raised here," Washam said. "But there are really only a few people left." 

DeShawna Washam

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