America’s first government-backed reparations program has selected the initial beneficiaries of housing grants
America’s first government sponsored reparations program has selected the first people to receive financial benefits. Officials in Evanston, Illinois has announced 122 residents qualified for benefits via the reparations program. The program was first approved in 2021. Sixteen people were selected at random for $25,000 grants through the Reparations Restorative Housing Program. Over 620 Evanston residents applied for Evanston’s reparations program and the 123 people that initially qualified will be prioritized by the city while the others will qualify at a later stage of the program.
The recipients or ‘awardees’ have yet to be publicly identified, but according to reports each person awarded is a Black resident who lived in the city as an adult between 1919 – 1969. The city of Evanston has a population of 78,000 and less than 20% of its residents are Black.
Robin Rue Simmons, a former Evanston City Council member designed the reparations program, said there is a “race against the clock” to provide the benefits to the awardees because all of them are 70 or older.
“It is an incredible milestone,” Simmons told Business Insider. “It’s also incredibly shameful that it’s taken this long and that there is this much need where ordinary public policy did not correct and address our historic wrongs.”
The program ran into some issues last summer when Evanston resident Priscilla Giles and hundreds of other Black residents rallied their support behind the online group Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations to demand the program be re-evaluated. One of the first issues residents had was that it wasn’t structured around community input. While local residents advocated for cash payments, the city responded by promising housing assistance via the Restorative Housing Program.
The grants given out represent $400,000 of 4% of the $10 million that has been set aside for the program over the next decade. Taxes from the city’s recreational marijuana sales…