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Black Community May Be Forced Out Of South Shore Area As Redevelopment For Obama Presidential Center Begins

Less than 3 miles from where former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama broke ground last week on their long-awaited presidential center on the South Side of Chicago, Tahiti Hamer lies awake at night thinking about the limited time she and her family have left in the neighborhood where she’s lived her whole life.

Following the announcement of the center in 2015, neighborhoods adjacent to the 19-acre planned site have seen skyrocketing rents and housing prices, and Hamer, 42, a single mother of three, is one of several facing displacement.

Dixon Romeo, a lifelong South Shore resident and organizer with the Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, a resident-based group formed in 2016 to help fight displacement, said residents are not against the Obama center but instead are looking for help, so they will be around to enjoy it.

“How can we benefit from it if we’re not there anymore?” he said. “This is the community that sent President Obama to Springfield. This is the community that sent him to the Senate. This is the community that sent him to the White House, and we should be the community that gets to stay for the presidential center.”

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