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How Obama and Valerie Jarrett Helped Launch Their Political Careers in an Outrageous 'Urban Renewal' Scheme

Developers and investors got rich on a project that destroyed the homes of thousands of Chicago's poorest black residents.

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Shortly before the demolition of 1230 N. Burling in 2012, Austen attended a Chicago Housing Authority meeting during which residents protested the board in response to the city forcing poor people off prime real estate. Activists included residents and supporters of a housing project called Lathrop Homes, a development in a well-off section of the North Side that was next in line to be demolished.

“The residents didn’t want to be forced into the private market or into temporary housing, especially since they doubted they’d be able to return to whatever replaced Lathrop; nor did they agree that market-rate apartments were needed in the redeveloped community, as the surrounding area was already full of market-rate condos,” Austen wrote.

Chicago’s $1.6 billion “ Plan for Transformation” envisioned a mix of public-housing residents with market-rate condos and subsidized rentals or homes, with one-third of each in these new communities.

In late 2012, NPR detailed how after more than a decade in the works, one of the country’s most closely watched public housing experiments was badly failing, partly due to the flailing economy.

NPR profiled Lathrop resident Mary Thomas:

Thomas has lived here for eight years with her husband and 7-year-old son. Lathrop sits on what many now consider prime land, next to the Chicago River. A busy street splits the development into a north and south section.

The north side is completely shuttered, cordoned off by gates, a ghost town of boarded-up buildings. Thomas lives in the open southern section, where steam from the old heating system wafts into the street. About 170 of the 900-plus units are occupied.

Thomas says all three of the concepts for Lathrop should be dumped and there should be more input from residents. She says there's little affordable housing in the area and there's no need for market-rate units at all.

Far from adopting a reflective attitude in the wake of Chicago’s failed experiment in public-private housing partnerships, Obama has now taken his love of public-private codependence to a national level, touting public-private partnerships in everything from creating jobs to education to tackling insurance fraud to collaborations involving foreign nations, which you can bet means the wealthiest multinational conglomerates teaming up to increase their profits at the expense of the 99 percent.

The First Lady played her own part in the Chicago racket of profiting off the poor. Michelle Obama worked at the University of Chicago Medical Center "redirecting" low-income patients to community hospitals in order to use its own beds for rich patients. Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, released a  statement saying the practice comes "dangerously close to patient dumping," a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA), and reflected an effort to "cherry pick" wealthy patients over poor.
"This is a dangerous precedent that could have catastrophic effects in poor neighborhoods across the country. Congress needs to hold hearings about the problems facing emergency patients. If other community, non-profit hospitals follow this example and shift the lion’s share of resources to its high-revenue elective patients and procedures, it will leave many emergency patients virtually out in the cold. The University of Chicago Medical Center is located in a poor neighborhood whose residents have few, if any, other options for emergency care."
 
The media barely paid any attention to Michelle Obama's role in all of this, though the  Chicago Sun-Times reported in 2008 that her $317,000-a-year role as Vice-President of the hospital helped create the patient-dumping program. 
Quoted in a related  Washington Post article, Quentin Young, a South Side physician, remarks the scheme is nothing more than an "attempt to ensure that the hospital retains only affluent patients with insurance." 

"If you put enough money into it, you could save a whole bunch of community health centers," Young said. "But to date, they haven't." 

Edward Novak, president of Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital, declined to discuss the center's initiative in particular but dismissed as "bull" attempts to justify such programs as good for patients. "What they're really saying is, 'Don't use our emergency room because it will cost us money, and we don't want the public-aid population,' " Novak said.

At the end of January this year, community residents launched a protest outside the University of Chicago Medical Center, angry that the hospital ignored their needs, especially for "victims of gun violence," according to a news report: "One woman said her son, shot just blocks away from the university, died on the way to a hospital ten miles away."  Four were arrested at the protest.  

 
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