South Siders Rally Against Feared Displacement From Obama Center

Andy Dahn
November 12, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Andy Dahn

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A group of South Side residents and activists are putting the pressure on city leaders before the Obama Presidential Center comes to town.   

Reverend Willie Campbell joined members of the Obama CBA Coalition Monday morning outside of Hyde Park High School, directly across the street from where the center will stand.

"We've gathered to make the powers that be understand and know that we are not against progress," Campbell told the crowd. "We are for progress, but progress that does not provide for the people is regression. We are not for regression."

Community members, faith leaders and students called for a new city ordanance called the Anti-Displacement Community Benefits Agreement Ordinanceto stop the property tax, create affordable housing and community investment for long-time residents in the area. 

One resident said the center may prove to be a positive for the city and its residents. For now, though, she's scared.

"They chose to build all of this unnecessary stuff," she said. "I'm worried that the taxes will be raised and my family will be pushed out. I'm worried that the house my family has been living in since 1998, a house my siblings grew up, the only house they know to call home, will be too expensive to keep."

 Shania Doyle, another resident, said she also fears the center's arrival will make her home unaffordable and put the blame on the developers.

"It's not that we don't trust the Obama Center, it's that we don't trust these greedy developers," Doyle said. "They don't care about people getting pushed out of their homes, they just want money." 

The Obama Center was approved two weeks ago and has since created tension. South side communities have been experiencing depopulation over time and Since the news of the center coming to Woodlawn, there has been an acceleration of low-income and working African American families being priced-out of the community.