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In Cairo's City of the Dead, election brings hope

In this photo taken in Monday, May 21, 2012, a boy plays next to tombs in a room where his family lives in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken in Monday, May 21, 2012, a boy plays next to tombs in a room where his family lives in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

CAIRO (AP) — As Egyptians took part in the country's first free presidential election, residents of one of Cairo's poorest quarters expressed hope that a new leader would help them with a simple request — finding a new home.

In this photo taken on Monday, May 21, 2012, a top view shows part of a necropolis called the City of the Dead where thousands of Egyptian families live, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometers) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken on Monday, May 21, 2012, a top view shows part of a necropolis called the City of the Dead where thousands of Egyptian families live, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometers) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Thousands of Cairo's poor live in the City of the Dead, a centuries-old necropolis replete with tombs and mausoleums that spreads out in a vast patchwork at the foot of the Mokattam Hills.

In this photo taken on Monday, May 21, 2012, a top view shows part of a necropolis called the City of the Dead where thousands of Egyptian families live, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken on Monday, May 21, 2012, a top view shows part of a necropolis called the City of the Dead where thousands of Egyptian families live, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The conditions are cramped among the tombs. Children play with toys alongside gravestones that double as makeshift tables and shelves. Residents have sealed over graves to make kitchen or bedroom floors. Laundry hangs from clotheslines stretched between two tombstones.

In this photo taken on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, left, and his two daughters sit next to the door of a grave, which is also where they live, in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, left, and his two daughters sit next to the door of a grave, which is also where they live, in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

"I have spent 25 years in cemeteries. No one checks on us and I live on only 200 pounds ($30) a month," said local resident Nadera Samir.

For some, living among the dead is a source of anxiety and nightmares.

In this photo taken on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, passes by his room in a grave where he and his family live in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, passes by his room in a grave where he and his family live in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

"When one sleeps next to or on top of the dead he feels like he is in a twister, he feels like he is drowning in the sea," said one resident, Fekry Masoud.

In this photo taken in Saturday, May 19, 2012, an Egyptian woman sits on a couch in the graveyard where she lives in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)In this photo taken in Saturday, May 19, 2012, an Egyptian woman sits on a couch in the graveyard where she lives in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Those living in the district expressed mixed feelings about the presidential election, which concluded Thursday.

Some backed veterans of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime, believing only they can ensure security and stability.

"Regardless of the fact that Mubarak was corrupt, life was easier, life was a lot cheaper," said one woman.

Others are horrified by the thought of a return to the regime.

Whatever the case, most have a simple request for the new president — not to forget them.

"What will be helpful is getting good food and a good place to live," said resident Sayeda Mohammed.