Chicago suburb passes the nation’s first ‘reparations’ measure for Black residents

The giving of reparations to Black people for past injustices is no longer just an idea. It is about to start taking place in one part of the country.

Breitbart reports that Evanston, Illinois, on Monday, became the first place in the United States to approve a reparations program for its Black residents. 

Evanston is a suburb of Chicago that has roughly 73,000 residents. It is the home of Northwestern University, and it is one of the most liberal towns in America.

The bill

The particular measure passed in Evanston looks to give reparations to Black residents who have been the victims of housing discrimination. The following information all comes from a memo that was released by Kimberly Richardson, Evanston’s interim assistant city manager.

To qualify to receive reparations, one must have “origins in any of the Black racial and ethnic groups of Africa,” and one must either have been a Black resident of Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or be a descendant of a Black person who was a resident of Evanston between 1919 and 1969. One would also qualify if he or she were the victim of housing discrimination that occurred after 1969.

Once an individual qualifies, then he or she is eligible to receive up to $25,000.

But, there are limits on how that money can be spent. It, for example, can be used for such things as helping to pay down payments on a house or closing costs for a residence in the city, or it can be used to help pay for repairs, improvements, or modernizations of a property, or it can be used to help pay down mortgage principal, interest, or late penalties.

Currently, $400,000 has been allocated for these reparations. But, the city is hoping to be able to hand out $10 million over the next ten years.

The funding for this program will largely come from a new 3 percent marijuana tax. This tax is expected to bring in somewhere between $500,000 and $750,000 per year.

Making history

The Chicago Tribune reported on Monday evening that this reparations program was overwhelmingly approved by Evanston’s city council by a vote of eight to one.

In fact, the only member to vote against it, Alderman Cicely Fleming, only did so because, in her opinion, the measure is not a genuine reparations program but a housing program, and she wants a genuine reparations program. Fleming also argued that the program is too paternalistic because of the way it puts restrictions on what the money can be used for.

Reparations measures, like that one passed in Evanston, have recently been discussed and proposed in cities across America. The question going forward will be how many other localities will now follow Evanston’s lead by passing their own reparations measure.

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