Chicago Activists Who Helped Elect Barack Obama Are Now Fighting to Make Sure His Presidential Center Doesn’t Displace Black Residents

The ongoing, and years-long, fight over the forthcoming Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago is heating up. Activists recently released a new set of demands for the project aimed at combating gentrification.

They aren’t protesting the center itself but are working to stop development from displacing them.

“We’re not against the center,” Dixon Romeo, an organizer with the Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, told Insider. He added that South Shore residents were among those who sent Obama to Springfield as an Illinois senator and later the White House.

“The issue is if you’re not investing in community members and the costs are going up, there’s nothing in place for folks to stay, it becomes harder for folks to live there,” he added.

Even though residents of the South Shore neighborhood voted overwhelmingly for the Democrat both in 2008 and 2012, they stand to lose their homes should the project cause rents and home prices to skyrocket even further.

Their demands include developing affordable housing from the city-owned vacant lots in a neighborhood whose residents are predominantly low-income and Black, as well as allocating money to the Chicago Low-Income Trust Fund for subsidized units in the area.

The coalition is also calling for expanded tenant protections, including the establishment of a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase program, and greater Fair Notice protections.

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SOURCE: Insider, Gwen Aviles