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Evanston, Illinois becomes first U.S. city to pay reparations to Black residents

The reparations housing program will distribute $400,000 to eligible Black households.

Reparations Evanston The Chicago Tribune

Evanston, Illinois has become the first U.S. city to pay reparations to Black residents. The program, which was put into action on Monday (March 22), will distribute $400,000 to eligible Black households. According to NBC, each eligible household will receive $25,000 to be used for home repairs or down payments on property in an attempt to correct the lasting effects of the city’s discriminatory housing practices.

“This is set aside for an injured community that happens to be Black, that was injured by the city of Evanston for anti-Black housing policies,” Alderman Rue Simmons, who first proposed the legislation, said.

To qualify, Black residents must have lived in or be a direct descendent of someone who lived in Evanston between the years 1919 and 1969. At that time, redlining and discriminatory practices caused Black families to be repeatedly denied loans for housing, causing lasting inequity.

“The historic redlining impacts our community today,” Simmons previously said. “That map still is the map of our concentrated Black community, our disinvestment, our inferior infrastructure.”

The reparations are being funded by donations and a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales. Through the program, the city of Evanston has pledged to distribute $10 million over 10 years.

The Evanston City Council voted 8-1 to approve the plan. Alderman Cicely Fleming, the only person who voted against it, says she supports reparations but criticized the plan as being a “housing program” rather than reparations.

True reparations should respect Black people’s autonomy and allow them to determine how [the] repair will be managed, including cash payments as an option,” Fleming said. “They are being denied that in this proposal, which gives money directly to the banks or contractors on their behalf.”

Following Evanston, cities in California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Iowa and more are considering reparations. President Joe Biden also voiced support for creating a federal commission that would study reparations.

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