As an Ilinois State Senator, Barack Obama sponsored provision to grant $100,000 to the Chicago Better Housing Association (CBHA) for its “Englewood Botanic Garden Project” to beautify blighted lots in the slums of Chicago. The Project was supposed to turn vacant, trash-filled city-owned vacant lots into a six-block oasis of trees and walking paths. It was never built, and now the State auditor wants an accounting of the money.
Obama also funneled an additional $20,000 in 2002 as part of a “members mark,” funding without oversight.
Obama friend Kenny B Smith heads the Chicago Better Housing Association. and his wife Karen was one of Obama’s campaign workers for Obama’s unsuccessful 2000 Illinois Congressional bid. She also owned KD Construction, which is the firm hired by CBHA to construct the park. (It has since been shut down.)
Apparently, the CBHA paid it’s director (Ms Smith) $65k and $20k to her company, KD Contractors. In return, Ms Smith’s company cut down some diseased trees and hired a bobcat to level the land. (The bobcat owner says he was only paid $3,000. ) There are no records that any building or work permits were ever applied for or awarded.
In 2000, Obama promised to work tirelessly to fund the organization’s plans to construct 50 units of affordable housing. However, except for the state grants and another $250k from the City of Chicago in 2003, the fundraising has fallen short. And only 12 houses were ever constructed.
To date, nothing else has been accomplished.