PHOTO GALLERY: This is Cairo

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.”

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 the population lives in the Elmwood and McBride public housing units. A housing report shows 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,

Story and photos by Abigail Dollins