‘Like A Test Run For The Whole Country’: Blue City Pours $10 Million Into Reparations

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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Evanston, Illinois, is paying out $10 million over the course of a decade to black residents as part of a reparations program for past housing discrimination, as well as their descendants, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The program is granting $25,000 each to 140 elderly residents this year, and those recipients’ 500 descendants will also eventually receive reparations, according to the WSJ. Initial recipients had to have been at least 18 and living in Evanston between 1919 and 1969, during which time housing discrimination and red-lining impeded black residents from purchasing homes in certain areas.

“Our job here is just to move forward and to continue being that example, to continue illustrating that a small municipality can make real tangible progress,” Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: California Reparations Task Force Approves $800 Billion Recommendations)

The payments were initially meant to come only as vouchers toward mortgage debt, down payments and home renovations, but have since been adjusted to allow for cash in some cases, since not all recipients own or intend to buy a home, according to the WSJ. The program was originally to be funded by marijuana taxes, but that funding came in too slowly, so the city is now using funds from a real-estate transfer tax on higher-value properties.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JUNE 17: People listen asNewark Mayor Ras Baraka, speaks during a Juneteenth reparations rally at Newark City Hall on June 17, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. The New Jersey Institute of Social Justice (NJISJ), elected officials, and activists marched and held a rally at City Hall celebrating the second year Juneteenth was recognized as a federal and state holiday in New Jersey. Legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in 2020. Rally-goers also called on New Jersey lawmakers to pass legislation to establish a Reparations Task Force that would allow experts to study and propose targeted and strategic policy recommendations for reparative justice. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JUNE 17: People listen asNewark Mayor Ras Baraka, speaks during a Juneteenth reparations rally at Newark City Hall on June 17, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

While dozens of American cities have proposed racial reparations payments in recent years, Evanston is the first municipality to follow through on the payments, according to the WSJ.

“I see it as like a test run for the whole country,” Justin Hansford, head of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, told the WSJ.

California’s Reparations Task Force submitted recommendations to the state legislature last month recommending, among other things, cash payments of over $1 million to eligible black Californians.

The Evanston resolution on reparations first passed in 2019.

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