Obama Presidential Library Reportedly Displacing Poor Chicago Residents

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Residents of Chicago’s South Side are reportedly being displaced as home and rent prices soar around the area close to the construction site of the $500 million Obama Presidential Center.

Since the Obama Presidential Center was announced in 2015, residents of Chicago’s South Side have seen a dramatic increase in costs of living. Rents have increased as much as 43 percent and home values more than 130 percent over that span, the Washington Post reported. More than 50% higher than the U.S. average, the increases have worked to “exacerbate existing affordability challenges for many low-income residents of Woodlawn and South Shore,” Professor William Sites of the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, told the outlet.

The increase has forced many residents out of their homes, as developers and real estate investors have moved in to snatch up pieces of now-prime real estate.  “I get these phone calls almost every day, like, ‘Are you looking to sell your home?’” Linda Jennings, 73, a retired nurse who has lived in her South Shore condominium for nearly 20 years, told the Washington Post.  “I tell them no, because this is my home.” (RELATED: Stuff From Chicago City Planners Says Obama’s Presidential Center Would Have ‘Adverse Effect’ On Surrounding Communities)

Lifelong South Shore resident Tahiti Hamer, 42, was forced to vacate her home last year after her landlord raised her rent by nearly 40 percent. A single mother of three, Hamer urged the landlord to negotiate the rent to make it more affordable for her. “She said, ‘Oh, you know, the area is changing. My taxes have gone up,’” Hamer recalled to the Washington Post “So, that’s it, then. I’m a working mother who can’t afford to live in my own community that I’ve lived in for 42 years.”

The Obama Foundation has maintained that the presence of the presidential library will improve some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, providing opportunities for people who live there. Yet nearly 90 percent of South Side voters have complained about the lack of affordable housing and are urging city officials to do more to secure their homes. (RELATED: Obama Just Dropped The First Detailed Images Of Hs Presidential Library – Yikes)

One such resident, Dixon Romeo, founder of the community organization Not Me We, told the Washington Post he doesn’t want Obama’s legacy to be tarnished by the displacement of thousands of black families. “This is the community that sent him to the White House, and we should be the community that gets to stay and benefit from the presidential center,” Romeo said.

Former President Barack Obama selected the Chicago site out of four possibilities because of the ties he and former First Lady Michelle Obama have with the city.

“It feels natural for Michelle and me to want to give back to Chicago and to the South Side in particular,” the former president told an audience at the groundbreaking in 2021, according to the Washington Post. “The Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this amazing city has given us,” he stated.