Evanston, Illinois, an affluent northern suburb of Chicago and home to Northwestern University, approved on Monday plans to provide reparations for Black residents. It is believed to be the first city in the US to offer reparations.
In a 8-1 vote by Evanston City Council, the city will provide housing assistance and mortgage relief to those who have lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or is a direct descendant of an individual harmed by discriminatory housing policies or practices during this time period.
Each person can qualify for up to $25,000 for mortgage assistance, down payment assistance, and funding for home improvements. The city says the program aims to help preserve, stabilize, and increase homeownership.
“This historic vote is the culmination of nearly two years of community input, conversation, and hard work, but it follows decades of harmful policies and practices that impact Black Evanston families to this day,” Robin Rue Simmons, a member of the city’s council, said. “While we acknowledge we have a long way to go to repair all of the damages done by racism, we also know this program will make a real and lasting difference in the lives of some of those harmed by past injustices, and will set the stage for additional reparative measures in the future.”
The city will open applications on March 31. The city is also accepting donations for reparations fund.
While Evanston has already approved reparations, members of Congress are calling for a national study on reparations.
House Resolution 40 would not award reparations on its own, but would establish the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans, which would then make recommendations on reparations. The commission would issue its findings within one year of its formation.
The bill appears to have the support of President Joe Biden.
“He continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action, to address the systemic racism that persists today, obviously that is having that study as a part of that, but he has signed an executive order on his first day, which would begin to deliver on his commitment to having an all-across government approach to addressing racial inequality and making sure equity is a part of his entire policy agenda,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.