What’s Happening to People Who Live Near Obama’s Presidential Center?

Frederic Legrand - COMEO / shutterstock.com
Frederic Legrand - COMEO / shutterstock.com

With the economy in turmoil, housing prices and rent have increased quite dramatically pretty much everywhere. But for one area, in particular, that rise seems to be higher than most. And it can squarely be laid at the feet of Barack Obama.

Obama might not be leading our nation anymore. But thanks to the development plan in Chicago, he’s still making waves in low-income and black communities – and not in a good way.

If you haven’t heard, Chicago will soon be home to the Obama Center, a monument to the former president, as well as a place to house all of his presidential papers. As you can imagine, it’s quite a massive project.

But, of course, its completion depends on pushing out a whole swarm of locals, most of whom have lower incomes and have been living in the area for years.

As the Washington Post recently reported, the center isn’t literally kicking out a bunch of people. However, all the outside investment has already forced higher than average rent rates even higher. The result is an entire community that can no longer afford to live there.

According to the Post, the median rent in three zip codes around the center has already risen by 43 percent since the announcement of the plans was made in 2015. And the Illinois Answers project says that’s only to go up, as nearly a third of the homes recently bought in the last quarter of 2022 were purchased by investors.

The result is home values that are up by over 130 percent.

Naturally, the people most affected aren’t at all thrilled.

As William Sites of the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago says, the price raise was “unavoidable,” and something most in the community saw coming even during the earliest of stages.

And that means it’s something Obama and those in charge of the project should have planned for.


For starters, they could ensure that low-income housing is built near the center.

Dixon Romeo, founder of the community organization Not Me We, told the Guardian most in the community aren’t against the center moving in. “But we are against gentrification. We are against displacement.”

Of course, this isn’t really anything we shouldn’t expect from the Obama legacy. After all, this is exactly what his entire administration looked like.

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It’s an absolute train wreck…