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Obama says the G-word: Barack Obama found himself in an awkward spot Tuesday at a community meeting for his proposed presidential library on the South Side of Chicago. A video from the Hyde Park Classics Facebook group shows Obama’s answer to an audience question about gentrification, where he says:
I know that I heard a couple people saying, ‘Well, we’re concerned about maybe rents might go up.’ Well here’s the thing. If you go into some neighborhoods in Chicago where there are no jobs, no businesses and nothing’s going on, in some cases the rent’s pretty cheap. But our kids are also getting shot on that block. So what I want to do is make sure people have jobs, kids have opportunity, the schools have a better tax base and if the rent goes up a little bit, people can pay it because they’ve got more money. If they’re seniors, if they’re on fixed incomes, if they’re disabled, then we need to make sure there’s a process in place to encourage and plan for affordable housing to be constructed there.
But here’s the thing I will say, I think a lot of times people get nervous about gentrification, and understandably so. ... It is not my experience ... that the big problem on the South Side has been too much development, too much economic activity, too many people being displaced…
It’s worth watching the video to get the mood of the room; the crowd laughs with him as he makes some of those points. But Obama’s longer answer to why he didn’t want to sign on to a community benefits agreement met a more muted response.
What do you think? We know this is a sticky subject that elicits strong feelings. Does Obama have a point, or has he got something wrong about gentrification? Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll highlight some of the best takes.
Our friends at Atlas Obscura have a delightful Facebook video based on a simple concept: Spotting all the rectangles in Grand Central Station. It’s got a great beat too. Enjoy.
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ICE rails against Oakland mayor’s warning of immigration raids (New York Times)
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