WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge seeking information from the agency on its decision to close the Connell F. Smith Building in Cairo and displace the residents of 53 units.
"The people of Cairo are rightfully frustrated after years of upheaval and uncertainty,” said Bost. “I have appealed to the Biden administration to provide these families with the clear and transparent answers they deserve regarding HUD’s latest plans to relocate local residents. We need to know how the agency reached this decision, whether they plan any additional relocations, and what steps are being taken to help folks find permanent housing.”
Text of the letter is available here and below:
The Honorable Marcia Fudge
Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
471 7th Street, Southwest
Washington, D.C. 20410
Dear Secretary Fudge:
For years residents of the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) endured substandard housing conditions that went ignored by corrupt and negligent housing authority executives. From May 2010 to November 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent numerous letters to the ACHA outlining significant physical, managerial, and financial failures, while requesting ACHA’s plans for addressing these issues.
It wasn’t until August 2015 that HUD entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the ACHA to resolve outstanding management and housing problems. After further non-compliance, HUD placed the ACHA in receivership in February 2016. Many of the housing units in Cairo were subsequently found to be uninhabitable, and tenants were forced to move due to dangerous living conditions.
It is my understanding that HUD is now planning on relocating all residents currently living in the Connell F. Smith Building in Cairo after several studies raised concerns with the structural integrity of the apartment complex and its ability to withstand seismic activity. The wellbeing of the 53 families residing in the building is paramount, and I want to ensure that they are living in safe conditions.
I appreciate that HUD is attempting to act in the best interests of residents of the Connell F. Smith Building, and I am confident that HUD staff will make every effort to ensure that relocation goes as smoothly as possible. However, I want to ensure that every possible option is provided to them throughout the relocation process. There are several important unanswered questions that I would like to help the residents of the Connell F. Smith building get answers to:
- What is the timeline for when HUD will require the building to be vacated, and what factors will the agency use to determine the timeline?
- How often is the ACHA inspected, including inspections for structural integrity, and when was the last time that the Connell F. Smith building passed inspection for structural integrity?
- Has HUD studied the likelihood of significant seismic activity occurring in Alexander County? If so, how have the results of this study impacted HUD’s decision to vacate the building?
- How many units does the ACHA have that are currently vacant and available for residents of the Connell F. Smith building to move into?
- Where are residents eligible to move and what resources are available to assist them?
- How soon will housing vouchers be available for residents?
- How many families do you anticipate being placed in temporary housing and how many in permanent housing?
- Are there any additional ACHA buildings currently under HUD receivership that have issues that would require resident relocation?
I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your timely response.