City of Evanston, Illinois Approves First Local Reparations Program for Black Residents

Officials in the city of Evanston in Illinois approved on March 22 the first batch of funds in its landmark reparations program for its Black residents.

Aldermen in Evanston voted 8-1 to approve the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program, a $400,000 housing grant program designed to compensate Black residents for the codified discriminatory housing policies and practices.

“In authorizing the program, the City Council both acknowledged and took the first steps towards repairing historic harm to the Black and African American community caused by past racial discriminatory housing policies and practices in Evanston, and inaction by the City,” a news release on the official city website reads.

According to a memo from Interim Assistant City Manager Kimberly Richardson, which the Chicago Tribune had obtained, applicants must have “origins in any of the Black racial and ethnic groups of Africa” and must also have lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969, or be a direct descendant of that individual.

“Individuals who have lived in Evanston after 1969 and can demonstrate discriminatory housing practices by the City may also be eligible,” the news release states.

The program will award eligible applicants up to $25,000, which can be used for mortgage assistance, down payment assistance, and funding for home improvements, according to the news release.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, the program will be funded using 3% of the recreational marijuana sales tax in the city, as well as some donations.

Under the initiative, a cap of $10 million of the sales tax revenue would go towards the local reparations funds over the next decade.

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