Opposition has been mounting over the location of the proposed Olympic Village should Chicago host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. More than 100 community groups have reportedly joined forces to campaign for a legally binding written agreement with the city to ensure local residents would not lose their homes or jobs if the Olympic Village is built in an area called Bronzeville. The $1.1 billion development would be built on the site of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center after it closes at the end of the year.
The campaign has been organized by a non-profit organization in Chicago called The Communities for an Equitable Olympics 2016. Shirley Smith, executive director of the North Kenwood Action Council, a non-profit organization said, “we want to make sure that residents and small businesses in Bronzeville are not displaced as a result of this project. I don’t think it’s fair to say we are totally against this project but we are opposed to the way the city has went about informing the community on it and the potential displacement it could cause”.
According to Mary Carter, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois & Indiana representing many of the low-wage employees at Michael Reese Hospital, research shows that when the Olympics were previously hosted in U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, low-income residents and low-wage jobs were displaced.
If the city loses its bid for the 2016 Games the site would reportedly be sold to a developer.
Bronzeville residents, especially those living in low-income apartment buildings, said they are worried their buildings would be converted into condominiums if the city wins the Olympics.