Chicago unveils plan to fix Obama Center site housing concerns


AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In this May 3, 2017, file photo, former President Barack Obama speaks near a rendering for the former president’s lakefront presidential center at a community event on the Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. Obama’s foundation collected contributions of more than $1 million from 11 firms and individuals in the first three months of 2019, records show. The Obama Foundation’s donor list, which is updated quarterly, included the AT&T Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on Monday, along with other family trusts and foundations. The list also included foreign investors like Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, who is chief executive of AirAsia, and Rumi Verjee, who is a member of the British House of Lords.

Chicago officials have proposed a plan to address affordable housing concerns around the site of the planned Obama Presidential Center.

The city would invest about $4.5 million in four programs to help low-income residents fix their homes, help others become homeowners and renovate vacant buildings, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The proposed ordinance follows a sit-in outside Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office by protesters concerned about gentrification and neighborhood preservation and years of activism on the issue.

Activists have called for other protections including a rental assistance fund. The $500 million center planned for lakefront property on Chicago’s South Side is expected to transform parts of the city by bringing in new businesses and housing developments, but area residents have been concerned about being displaced. A construction date hasn’t been set.

“We need to be helping people more,” said Linda Tinsley who has lived in the area for 14 years.

The Obama Presidential Center will include a plaza and four buildings, along with a two-acre children’s play area and a public library branch.