DHS shutters Cairo public aid office, spokeswoman suggests Decatur office as option

SPRINGFIELD — According to the Southern Illinoisan, the Illinois Department of Human Services shuttered a public aid office Wednesday in Alexander County — Illinois’s poorest county.

The paper says with the office closing, Alexander County residents needing face-to-face assistance signing up for or with questions regarding medical, food and cash benefits will now have to travel to nearby Mounds in Pulaski County.

Case managers at the resource centers must review applications and help people apply for aid that includes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is for pregnant mothers and their young children; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, and state Medicaid benefits.

However, the article explains that DHS spokeswoman Veronica Vera told him the decision was not driven by the state’s budget standoff, but rather because state officials noted slow traffic at the public aid office in Cairo. She said about 15 people per day visit the Cairo office, and even fewer visit the office daily in Mounds.

Vera informed the publication that the Mounds office was just a few miles away from the one in Cairo, Vera also said there was an office in the region in Decatur, admitting she doesn’t know how far that office is from Cairo.

Decatur is east of Springfield, about 3 hours and 40 minutes north of Cairo. There are other offices much closer than Decatur, points out the paper, including one in Anna and one in Marion, according to DHS’s office, neither of which were mentioned by Vera.

Vera’s own DHS administrative office is located in Chicago.