(Corine Gatti, Headline USA) Residents of Chicago’s South Side are facing an uncertain future as the booming development around the $500 million Obama Presidential Center threatens to expel former Obama voters from their homes.
The longtime residents of the South Side are being forced to sell their homes–one longtime resident painfully shared. Linda Jennings, 73, told the Washington Post that she’s been in her condominium for almost 20 years — and is pestered daily by calls to sell.
“I get these phone calls almost every day, like, ‘Are you looking to sell your home?’ I tell them no, because this is my home,” she said.
“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,” South Shore native and activist Dixon Romeo told the Post.
Evidently, residents’ complaints are falling on deaf ears since the foundation broke ground in 2021. The Obama Foundation maintained the library would benefit Chicago’s neediest communities.
But the numbers don’t lie.
Rents increased as much as 43% and home values have ballooned to over 130% in the surrounding areas, the Post reported. This is 50% higher than the U.S. average. The increases have worked to aggravate the “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 Post.
The Nathalie P. Voorhees Center conducted an investigative study of rent prices in areas near the Presidential Center. Their findings showed that since 2016, rents have risen faster in the area than in the rest of the city. As a result, many of the renters, who make up 42% of the population, make less than $20,000 annually, with 91% paying more than 30% of their monthly income on rent.
Additionally, the study found that eviction rates in these areas were higher than the city’s average. These concerning results have revealed an unfortunate truth: people living in the Presidential Center area are struggling with the increasing costs of rent and higher eviction rates.
Priscilla Dixon, 62, told also the news outlet the sad truth in this heartbreaking revelation. “This is about real people, and we don’t want the Obama Center — the center honoring the first black president — to be another page in the long history of displacing black people or doing harm to black families.”
The 19-acre plot would feature a public library, playground, community center and a museum.
Reportedly, library is expected to open in 2025-2026.