Leaders pushing for new development in Cairo, Illinois as residents forced to leave apartment building

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CAIRO, IL – “A hectic situation.” Those words from Alexander County Housing leaders as they describe the soon-to-be displacement of 53 families in Cairo, Illinois.

They’re expected to leave the Connell F. Smith building the first week of March.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says the apartment building poses a health and safety risk because of the potential for earthquakes.



“A hectic situation.” Those words from Alexander County Housing leaders as they describe the soon-to-be displacement of 53 families in Cairo, Illinois.

They’re expected to leave the Connell F. Smith building the first week of March.


Back in 2019, the Alexander County Housing Authority demolished the Elmwood and McBride public housing complexes.

Hundreds of families had to relocate.

Leaders with Alexander County Housing say situations like these are driving people out of Cairo. 

Marcia Vance has lived in Connell F. Smith in Cairo, Illinois on and off for the past twenty years.

New Year’s Day is approaching and she says celebrating the holiday season has been a challenge.

That’s because she feels uneasy about moving out. 



New Year’s Day is approaching and Marcia Vance says celebrating the holiday season has been a challenge.

That’s because she feels uneasy about moving out.


“You just continue on, maintain as best you can and try not to let it depress you too much,” said Vance.

Steven Tarver is the chairman for the resident advisory board for Alexander County Housing.

He says right now, it’s about the people.

“This is going to be a hectic situation, we’re knowing that it can’t be avoided at this point,” said Tarver. “So our focus now is to switching over to make sure that every resident’s needs is met.”

Tarver represents tenants in his position and he says right now, 85 to 90% of residents want to stay in the building.



Tarver represents tenants in his position and he says right now, 85 to 90% of residents want to stay in the building.


He says the solution is to establish and invest in new development.

“What’s needed to get a voice of our own, what board needs to be developed, what investors, what developers need to come to the table, so that we can start looking at these empty lots and the empty plots that have been vacant for six, seven years now,” said Tarver.

For Vance, this is more than an issue of convenience. 

The reason she wants to stay in Cairo?

“Because this is home,” said Vance. “This is home. This is where all my friends are, I mean my family’s in Marion and Cape but I have all my group of friends that I just left and I would come back because of that and cause it’s home.”

Tarver says he’s working to find housing for these tenants.

With a partnership with Jackson County Housing, Tarver says he and a group toured three locations in Murphysboro, Carbondale, and De Soto, Illinois. 

There are about 45 to 50 units being made available for Cairo residents.

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December 28, 2022 at 10:29PM

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