Tenants Near Obama Center Facing a $200 Per Month Rent Increase

Obama Presidential Center
Design of Obama Presidential Center (Source: USA Today)

Protest Alderman: Demand Community Benefit Ordinance NOW

Chicago, IL –(ENEWSPF)—March 27, 2018

Contact: Alex Goldenberg

The Obama Library Community Benefits Coalition will join with tenants who live across the street from the Obama Center facing a $200 rent increase to protest Alderman Cochran today, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. at 6357 S. Cottage Grove. Following the protest tenants and allies will take their demands to Alderman Hairston’s Ward meeting at 6 p.m. at 6940 S. Merrill Ave. Tenants and the Community Benefit Coalition are demanding that Alderman Cochran and Hairston and Mayor Emanuel pass a CBA ordinance to protect longtime residents like these from being pushed out.

Tenants who live in the Jackson Park Terrace Apartments, across the street from the Obama Center, are facing a rent increase ranging from $100 to over $250. Cindy Lee, a tenant in the building and longtime neighborhood resident says: “he heard we would not be displaced but my rent is going up next week, I don’t want to move now that the Obama Center is coming, but with this rent increase I may have no choice.”

The building is owned by Leon Finney, who has put up “We Trust Obama” signs on the housing development. Tenants and Community Benefit Coalition Allies believe Leon Finney is attempting to displace these residents in order to charge more for rents and profit from the Obama Center.

Tenants and the CBA Coalition and allies are calling for a City Ordinance to protect residents against displacement before the Obama Center plans are approved. The Plan Commission is expected to vote on the approval of the Obama Center plans at next month’s Plan Commission meeting.

The Lift the Ban Coalition, which in the elections last week won overwhelming support for rent control, will also join the CBA Coalition to demand a CBA Ordinance and Rent Control legislation to protect longtime residents like those at Jackson Park Terrace.

Since 2014, community groups, now numbering two dozen, have been organizing to stop the displacement of long time African American residents from the neighborhood surrounding the Obama Library. Since President Obama has said that he will not sign a private Community Benefits Agreement, organizers have been calling for a Community Benefit Ordinance that would benefit all residents and apply to the Obama Center, University of Chicago and other developments in the surrounding area.

Beyond the rent increase at Jackson Park Terrace, the Obama Library CBA Coalition points out that the threat of displacement is neighborhood wide. A Redfin study found that property values in Woodlawn in 2017 went up by 23%. A Chicago Rehab Network study found that 62% of Woodlawn residents already pay more than 30% of their income in rent, making them rent burdened and at risk of displacement. The Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul found that 14,000 more units of low income affordable housing would need to be built to meet the demand in the area surrounding the Obama Center. The Community Benefit Ordinance activists are demanding would freeze property taxes for longtime residents in the area, set aside 30% of new housing construction for affordable housing, and require other developers like the University of Chicago to invest in job training and local hiring. The proposed Ordinance provisions are published on their website: ObamaCBA.org.

The Obama Library CBA Coalition is a group of diverse community organizations. Coalition members are: Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, the Poor People’s Campaign Inc., Southside Together Organizing for Power, the Black Youth Project 100, Bronzeville Regional Collective, UChicago for a CBA, and the Westside Health Authority. Our ally members include: Alliance of the South East, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Jobs Council, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Rehab Network, Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Women in Trade, Friends of the Parks, Indivisible Southside, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois/Indiana, Standing Up for Racial Justice, Reparations at UChicago, Voorhees Center for Neighborhood Improvement, the Wolfpack, and Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors.

### ObamaCBA.org, @ObamaCBA

Source: Obama Library Community Benefits Coalition