EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) – The public housing complexes on the east side of the river might just be the deadliest places in the country, but efforts are underway to secure the area.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is bringing in federal law enforcement to help state and local authorities crack down on crime. Figures show that East St. Louis is nearly twice as dangerous as even the worst streets in Chicago.
“You will find that the crime rate here is the worst in the nation,” Durbin says. “The club scene in East St. Louis is a crime scene.”
Durbin says that although the public housing complexes are managed federally, their problems come from local sources.
“You cannot have this club scene turn out to be the wild west, where innocent people are victimized by it, no matter what the revenue is to the city of East St. Louis,” he says. “And you can’t open liquor stores on every corner near housing developments and expect good things to come if you’re open all night.”
Durbin says the responsibility is on city leaders’ shoulders to change the public housing situation.
Sister Julia Huiaskamp has tutored many kids in the area, and she says opportunities are few.
“We have many, many children who have been cheated by the public schools system here, who do not have the skills they need to get a job, even if there were any jobs to find,” Huiaskamp says.
She also says the problem extends beyond just kids.
“We have so many parents of the children that we work with who have no cash income – their only income is food stamps,” Huiaskamp says.
Durbin says poverty is a longer-term issue, and for now efforts will focus on reducing crime by tracking down and prosecuting criminals.
Copyright KMOX Radio.