The Evanston, Illinois city council voted 8-1 Monday night to approve a plan to make remedies available to black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery.
The plan, which may be the first of its kind in the United States, is to distribute $ 400,000 to eligible black households. The Associated Press reported that eligible households in the city of 73,000 would be entitled to $ 25,000 for home repairs or down payments on the property.
Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, the lawmaker who proposed the initiative in 2019, called the approval a first step but said more needed to be done.
“That alone is not enough,” she said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We all know that the road to redress and justice in the black community will be a generation of work. There will be many programs and initiatives and more funding.”
She told the New York Times: “It’s the math. We are truly proud as a city to lead the nation towards redress and justice.”
Funding for the program will come from the 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana and donations. The city plans to spend around $ 10 million over 10 years.
Eligible residents must have lived or be a direct descendant of a black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 and who experienced housing discrimination due to city ordinances, policies or practices.
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Simmons said pro-reparations groups offered pro-bono legal assistance if the program was challenged in court.
The city council acted after dozens of citizens addressed the corps and the plan was rejected by many.
Alderman Cicely Fleming, the only one voting against the plan, said she supported repairs, but city council was debating a housing plan called repairs. She said people should dictate the terms of redress for their grievances. Fleming described the program as paternalistic, and he assumes that blacks cannot manage their own money.
In January, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, reintroduced a law that would fund a commission to study and develop proposals to grant reparations to African Americans. Repairs have become a particularly controversial topic over the past year and have been pushed back by Republicans in Congress.
Hundreds of communities and organizations across the country are considering providing reparations to blacks. They range from the state of California to cities like Amherst, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island, Asheville, North Carolina and Iowa City, Iowa; religious denominations such as the Episcopal Church; and leading colleges like Georgetown University in Washington.
President Biden has shown his support.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters last month, according to The Hill.
“He would definitely support a study on reparations. He understands that we don’t need a study to take action on systemic racism now, so he wants to take action within his own government in the meantime. “she said.
Fox News’ Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report
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