South Shore residents push for stronger housing protection

CHICAGO — A coalition of residents in South Shore is pushing for better housing protections as the nearby Obama Presidential Center remains under construction in Jackson Park.

Members of the Community Benefits Agreement Coalition have said the city is not doing enough to protect residents in South Shore, neighboring the Obama Presidential Center.

“As a senior condo owner, I feel vulnerable to displacement,” Linda Jennings said.

Kiara Hardin says within a few years, rent on her south shore apartment went from $900 to nearly $1,400 a month. She had to move to a different building. 

“I don’t want to be displaced and leave the neighborhood I’ve chosen,” resident Kiara Hardin said.

The Obama Foundation did not sign a community benefits agreement but committed to supporting policies to ensure residents who want to stay in the area have the tools to do so.

In 2020, the city council approved an ordinance with housing protections for renters and homeowners in Woodlawn, but it did not include South Shore, which leads the city in evictions.

The coalition demands that 100% of city-owned vacant lots in South Shore be set aside for affordable housing development. They also call for stronger protections for homeowners and tenants, hoping to hold the Chicago Housing Authority accountable.

One resident said the coalition has met with city officials thrice in the past seven months but doesn’t believe the issue is a priority for Mayor Lightfoot.

“We want to be able to stay for the Obama Center and we will not be able to unless comprehensive housing policies are not put in place,” resident Kori Robinson said.

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