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Obama Library Displacement Concerns: City Council Falls Short of Local Demands

The Chicago City Council has approved an ordinance intended to protect residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the planned Barack Obama Presidential Center.
September 13, 2020, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Chicago, Illinois
Jackson Park (pictured here) will soon have a new residents. Neighbors are worried they could be priced out.
Jes Farnum

Fran Speilam reports on the latest in the ongoing controversies surrounding the Barack Obama Presidential Center, planned for a location in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. Included among the controversies still dogging the project are the concerns of residents who see the development as a harbinger of higher housing prices, gentrification, and displacement. 

Spielman rehashes the history of this controversy as follows:

Four months ago, Woodlawn residents fearful of being displaced by the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park staged a day-long sit-in outside the mayor’s office to pressure Mayor Lori Lightfoot to deliver the community benefits ordinance she promised during the campaign.

They turned up the heat on City Hall in June by building a tent city in a vacant Woodlawn lot.

Despite those protests, Spielman says the ordinance approved recently by the Chicago City Council falls short of the demands of these residents. The Woodlawn Housing Preservation ordinance, as it's called, "sets aside $4.5 million for an array of affordable housing programs in the neighborhood surrounding the Obama Presidential Center and establish affordability requirements for 30 percent of new housing units built on 52 of the 208 vacant Woodlawn lots owned by the city," explains Spielman. 

"The city will offer more financial assistance to landlords who agree to purchase or refinance multi-family resident [sic] buildings and maintain those units as affordable for 30 years," adds Spielman. More details of the ordinance, and how it fell short of the demands of local advocates, are included in the source article.

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Published on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 in Chicago Sun-Times
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