The Chicago suburb of Evanston voted to approve reparation payments to black residents after a city council vote Monday, The Associated Press reported. It is believed to be the first of its kind in U.S. history.
The Evanston City Council voted 8 to 1 to disperse $400,000 from the city’s Local Reparations Fund to certain black residents. Prospective recipients need to verify residence, or a descendant of a resident, who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and was a victim of discrimination in housing as a result of city laws at the time, the AP reported. The program is being funded through donations and a 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The financial payout is meant to atone for years of past discrimination and any remaining effects of slavery. Eligible recipients will be given $25,000 to use for a down payment on a house or closing cost assistance for properties within Evanston.
Additionally, the money can also be used for repairs, improvements or modernizations of a property in Evanston, payments toward mortgage principal, interest, or late penalties on a city property, the Tribune reported. (RELATED: Chicago Suburb To Vote On Reparations)
Ald. Robin Rue Simmons of Evanston, IL appointed to @ReparationsComm “I look forward to adding my local legislative experiences to the NAARC toolbox to advance Reparations & all forms of Reparative Justice. “ ~ @RobinSimmons888. https://t.co/An2w83VP9w
— NAARC (@ReparationsComm) March 18, 2021
Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, the legislator who first proposed the initiative in 2019, declared the program a first step but insisted more needed to be done.
“It is, alone, not enough,” Simmons said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We all know that the road to repair and justice in the Black community is going to be a generation of work. It’s going to be many programs and initiatives and more funding.”