The Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, became the first city in the United States to approve a reparations program for its black residents Monday night, following an 8-to-1 city council vote.
The program aims to target those harmed by racist housing policies adopted by the city in the early 20th century — and will be funded by a tax on recreational marijuana, which is legal in the state. Specifically, it will make $400,000 available for black residents in the form of $25,000 grants to promote homeownership and home improvement — and will also provide mortgage assistance to black residents who can prove they are descendants of residents who faced housing discrimination years ago.
“It is, alone, not enough,” said Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who first proposed the initiative. “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.”
The policies were met with criticism from many of the more than 60 speakers at Monday’s city council meeting, including Alderwoman Cicely Fleming, who opposed the idea of housing grants and was the sole “no” vote against the program. She told CBS News: “True reparations should respect Black people’s autonomy and allow them to determine how repair will be managed. They are being denied that in this proposal, which gives money directly to the banks or contractors on their behalf.”
The national movement for reparations was revived last year after worldwide protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Below is an in-depth look at the racist housing policies that brought about Evanston’s reparations program from Vice News: