Career fair helps displaced Cairo, IL residents

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - As a response to the Department of Housing and Urban Developments decision to condemn two public housing facilities in Cairo, IL, the Alexander County Housing Authority hosted a career fair Wednesday to help the hundreds of residents that must find new places to live.

The executive director of the local housing authority, Towanda Macon, said that about 40 organizations collaborated to supply information and job opportunities to roughly 200 attendees.

Macon believes that the relocation process goes beyond trying to move the people out of the condemned housing.

"We're about trying to create new opportunities and a new way of life even in a difficult situation," Macon said. "We want our residents to understand that we do care. We are part of this community and we want it to be successful."

The manager of mobility services for the Cairo area, Warren Riley, said that a major focus of the fair was to help affected families find meaningful employment instead of dead-end jobs to make the transition easier.

"People will leave here with a sense of purpose, and a sense of direction for themselves," Riley said. "Most of the employers are willing to offer people an opportunity at a full-time job with benefits. That is a big word for some people here because a lot of them work 14, 20 hours maybe every two weeks or week with no benefits."

Patricia Sawyer, who was a social worker in Southern Illinois for 40 years, recently became unemployed and was find an employment opportunity at the career fair that was in a similar field.

"I was like 'Oh my God I can't believe it,'" Sawyer said. "It was one of those jobs that I'm looking for. It's something that is going to give me the same satisfaction that I had in my other job."

She added that she would recommend that more people in the area take advantage of a future job fair.

"Go because you never know what you're going to find,' Sawyer said. "I'm really grateful that I was able to attend."

Those that missed the career fair can still contact the Alexander County Housing Authority for information on employers that were in attendance by visiting their office or calling 618-734-1910.

HUD still has not scheduled a time that they hope to have federal housing developments Elmwood and McBride in Cairo completely vacant.

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