HUD relocates more than 180 households in Cairo, IL - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

HUD relocates more than 180 households in Cairo, IL

(Source: Hank Cavagnaro/KFVS) (Source: Hank Cavagnaro/KFVS)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that hundreds of residents in Cairo, Illinois must relocate from their current homes.

These residents are being required to move from Elmwood and McBride housing complexes because the properties are being demolished. 

One resident of Elmwood, Jacklyn Davis, said, "We don’t want to leave Cairo, this is what we know."

The people who live in Elmwood and McBride housing complexes are all very shocked by the news they received on the night of Monday, April 10.

“Who wants to travel to this place and that place? C'mon now! They are breaking up a whole community for what? For what?” Davis wondered. 

According to HUD, both complexes need to be demolished due to the living conditions.

“I’m lost for words," said Elmwood resident Lashana Johnson. "I was lost for words last night. I shedded a few tears. This is our home town – this is where I was raised. I wasn’t raised out here but I was raised in Cairo.  And I watched this area for so long. And for them to just say that they are going to tear it down. Its not right.”

Cairo has nearly 2,400 total residents, this change would displace up to 25 percent of those people.

Cairo Mayor, Tyrone Coleman, is already planning ahead.

“We already started making phone calls and have one developer who says he’s interested,” Mayor Coleman said."That’s my focus – is what we can do to being new housing in the city of Cairo. I don’t want to deal with what has happened in the past that’s the past. We have to plan now to move ahead."

Coleman worried that a lot of these families will need affordable housing, but there aren’t many places to choose from in the city. 

"It’s just unbelievable that – we could be experiencing something like this in the greatest country on the face of the earth," Mayor Coleman said.

Residents were given the option by HUD on Monday, April 10 to sign up to work with Relocation Specialist to begin preparing to move.

There is currently not a specific date required for relocation but the Alexander County Housing Authority said they will contact each family affected within the next month.

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement after the HUD announced it would make housing vouchers available to residents of the Elmwood and McBride. 

“After years of mismanagement and misuse of funds within the Alexander County Housing Authority, strong federal action is welcome to address the housing crisis in Cairo. This is a massive undertaking for HUD, and it will require close dialogue with local authorities and residents to mitigate the destabilizing effects of relocation – not only for the affected families but for the city of Cairo, which is already suffering the consequences of population decline,” said the senators. “We urge HUD to continue to hold public meetings and ensure residents have a clear understanding of their options.”   

HUD plans on handing out Tenant Protection Vouchers that will allow residents to move to a rental unit owned by individual landlords anywhere within the U.S. that uses a voucher program.

After receiving the voucher, families will have 120 days o find suitable housing with an optional 30-day extension.

They will also offer relocation counseling to the affected households.

Illinois Representative Mike Bost released this statement in regard to the recent incident:

"I have pleaded with HUD to continue working with us on solutions to sustain the city of Cairo and provide adequate and safe housing for its residents.  I remain in close contact with Mayor Coleman and other local officials as we do all we can to find opportunities for revitalizing and reinvesting in this community.  We're all working and praying for the best outcome for local families."

For more information, questions will be directed to the Alexander Housing Authority or the City of Cairo, Ill.

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