Gov. Rauner meets with concerned Cairo citizens - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Gov. Rauner meets with concerned Cairo citizens

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CAIRO -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner paid a visit to Cairo, where he announced a job fair and tried to reassure residents the state is doing all it can to help them. 

"Most of all when you've been in one spot for 40 years. I got married in that apartment and I came down those steps. So that's the hardest part of leaving," said Bessie Lambert.

Lambert and her husband Paul lived in the Alexander Housing complexes since they got married. That all changed one day when they were told they had to leave.

"It wasn't like we didn't have nowhere to go. We could have gone two or three different places. But we wanted to stay here in town. This is Cairo and this is our hometown," Paul Lambert said.

Their story is the story of hundreds of others in Alexander County, subjected to the squalid conditions at the Elmwood and McBride complexes.

Governor Bruce Rauner stopped in Cairo Saturday, meeting with people like the Lamberts who are concerned for the future of the city, and says housing is a complicated matter.

"HUD had built the affordable housing units here that have deteriorated and been mismanaged. So it's primarily HUD's responsibility to help people relocate," Governor Rauner said.

With that being said, Rauner said the state is offering tax credit to developers of Section 8 housing to help keep people in Cairo and Southern Illinois.

"We need more economic opportunities. More investment, more job growth, more careers for everyone," Rauner said.

The Lamberts are a few of the lucky ones who were able to be rehoused in their home town.  They now live in the Little Egypt Estates, an affordable housing complex in Cairo. They moved in just over a month ago.

However, Bessie said without extra help from the state, more people will be forced to move away and Cairo could become a ghost town.

"Our governor can do more than what he's doing to help us. They send a little money down and it just stops in Carbondale, like Cairo don't exist," she said.

Governor Rauner also announced a job fair for Cairo on January 10, 2018. 

It will be held at the Mighty Rivers Worship Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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