The City Council in Evanston, Ill., voted 8-1 to approve a plan to make reparations available to black residents over past discrimination and slavery, Fox News reported.
The plan, the first of its kind in the country, is to distribute $400,000 to eligible black households. Each qualifying household will be eligible to receive $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property, according to the Associated Press.
Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, who first proposed the measure back in 2019, called the approval a first step. “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,” she said, the Chicago Tribune reported.
She told the New York Times, “It is the reckoning. We’re really proud as a city to be leading the nation toward repair and justice.”
The initiative will be funded by a 3 percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana, as well as donations. The city expects to spend about $10 million over 10 years.
To qualify, an applicant must have “origins in any of the Black racial and ethnic groups of Africa,” according to the memo. Applicants must either have lived in or been a direct descendant of a black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and who suffered discrimination in housing because of city ordinances, policies, or practices.
Simmons said pro-reparations groups have offered pro-bono legal assistance if the program is challenged in court.
Alderman Cicely Fleming, the lone council member who voted against the plan on Monday, said she was concerned with the decision to give housing grants rather than cash payments and had concerns the City Council was debating a housing plan that is being called reparations.
Fleming said the people should dictate the terms of how their grievances are repaired. She described the program as paternalistic, and it assumes Black people can’t manage their own money, Fox News reported.