Cairo residents told to relocate from apartment building due to structural concerns

CAIRO, Ill. (KBSI)  – The Alexander County Housing Authority and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development shared with the Cairo community that 53 families who live in the Connell F. Smith building will need to relocate within 30 days of the HUD desired timeframe.  

Deputy Regional Administrator James A. Cunningham says there are concerns with the structural integrity of the Smith building. 

“We found that the supports, the wood pilings, and the foundation would not withstand a catastrophic earthquake,” Cunningham said, “So based on that information, we got some more studies, we got the final study late last week that indicated that it was just not feasible to continue to invest in the properties.” 

Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson says he received details of this meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday taking him and residents in shock.  

“In fact 11:30 today I was on a phone call with them and that’s when I was informed what the meeting was about today at 3 o’clock,” Simpson said, “First of all, there’s got to be a way to keep everybody here in Cairo. First of all, there we went through this with McBride housing projects, so I asked them about folks what the problem is you know, and I was like, ‘Hey you got in with McBride, just feels right there you know that’s ready.” 

Residents like Karen Crosby have questions about why repairs weren’t made sooner when Alexander County Housing Authority invested $10.6 million into properties in 2016.  

“The money that they put in to fix it, why would they want to tear it down? They put in new doors and the sinks and toilets, [you] do not need to now say the structural damage but that should have been doing when they were fixing stuff,” said Crosby. 

HUD says they will offer services for residents such as counseling, transportation, and vouchers for housing in Cairo, Alexander County, and around the country. 

There is no plan for building new housing right now on HUD end, but Mayor Simpson says he has already been making calls looking for investors. 

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