Chi-Town Residents: Obama Ctr Causing ‘Harm to Black Families’

Chi-Town Residents: Obama Ctr Causing ‘Harm to Black Families’

April 4, 2023

Chicago residents are growing increasingly concerned about the damage Barack Obama‘s Presidential Center will have on their community, as longtime South Side families are being displaced by soaring rent prices and unsustainable living costs which they blame on the former president’s project.

The Obama Presidential Center hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking in September 2021, revealing a massive 19-acre plot that is designed to host a public library branch, playground, community centers and a museum that aims to revitalize the South Side of Chicago. It is being financed mostly through private donations.

But the ongoing $500 million project, which remains under construction, has reignited fears among longtime residents that the center will gentrify the community and that the positive “economic impact” promised by the former president will instead raise property values and make housing costs unaffordable.

An article published Monday by the Washington Post, titled “Chicago neighbors say Obama center is raising rents, forcing them out,” examined the center’s impact on neighboring communities, noting that median home prices have more than doubled since the center was first unveiled.

“The Obama Center is not being built for Chicago,” one resident said. “It’s being built for the world. …[And the people of the world] don’t want us here. So what do you think is going to happen?”

The WaPo report also cites longtime South Side resident Tahiti Hamer, 42, a single mother of three who spoke to the outlet after being forced out of her home as rent became untenable. “In 2021, the same year the Obama Center broke ground, her landlord raised the rent by nearly 40 percent,” the report reads.

“I’m a working mother who can’t afford to live in my own community that I’ve lived in for 42 years,” Hamer told the Washington Post.

Dixon Romeo, a South Shore native and community activist, told reporters recently that residents don’t want “Obama’s legacy marred 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.

© Copyright 2024,