South Side Residents Push For Community Benefits Agreement In Fear Of Gentrification After Obama Center Opening

Mike Krauser
October 23, 2018 - 1:11 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- South Side residents are organizing to get a referendum on the February municipal election ballot that would protect housing when the Obama Presidential Center moves in. 

"Obama yes, displacement no!"

Activist Jawanza Malone and other activists kicked off an effort Tuesday morning to compel aldermen to get behind a Community Benefits Agreement that would put the brakes on gentrification. 

“I pity the alderman who chooses not to do the right thing by their constituents,” Malone said.  “Because while people will have an opportunity to vote on whether there will be a Community Benefits Agreement, they will also have the opportunity to vote on who gets to keep their job.”

Activist Parrish Brown said “it is not unreasonable for black people to benefit from the Obama Presidential Center that is coming to our neighborhood.” 

The activists were joined by seniors who said they fear they’ll lose the homes they’ve lived in for decades.   

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

A Community Benefits Agreement would set aside affordable housing and freeze property taxes among other things.

The Obama Foundation has said the center, itself, benefits the community.   And aldermen have pushed back against the idea.