This project was commissioned by ProPublica as part of an investigative series that examined the condition of deteriorating public housing developments near St. Louis. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has neglected to address long-standing issues affecting vulnerable residents in communities who depend upon HUD for assistance. When public housing breaks down and people are forced to move, their social networks and support systems fracture and the fabric of these struggling communities erodes.
William Widmer is a narrative photographer based in New Orleans, Louisiana, the land of muffalettas, oil spills, jazz funerals, hurricanes, drive-thru daiquiris, and rapidly eroding coastal wetlands. Much of his work explores themes of human ecology, environmental justice, and the changing landscape of the Gulf Coast region.
He's a regular contributor to The New York Times and photographs on assignment throughout the country for clients including The Atlantic, Mother Jones, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and TIME.