City approves Woodlawn affordable housing protections near Obama library

CHICAGO -- A plan to protect housing options for low-income residents living near the planned Obama Presidential Center was approved Wednesday by the Chicago City Council.

The move follows years of back and forth between the city and activists who've feared development around the $500 million presidential center would displace residents in the largely Black lakefront neighborhood of Woodlawn.

Under the ordinance, the Chicago will require new developments near the planned center to include affordable housing. The plan earmarks $4.5 million for housing programs, including offering grants for existing residents to repair homes and a program aimed at keeping rents affordable.

"This legislation will not only be a key first step in keeping long-term residents in place in Woodlawn but will serve as a model for the rest of Chicago as we advocate for additional development needed to transform all our neighborhoods," Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor, a former activist who campaigned on the issue, said in a statement.

The Obama center is planned for a nearly 20-acre park site near Lake Michigan. Drawings released in November 2019 showed updated architectural details like an 88-foot glass expanse on a tower. Construction has been delayed by a park advocacy group's lawsuit and a federal review.
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