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City Nears First Reparations

Payments would amount to $25K per person, intended for housing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2021 6:05 PM CST

(Newser) – An Illinois city has planned its first reparations to Black residents: $25,000 for housing assistance. The money will go to all Black people who lived in Evanston before 1969 and endured discriminatory housing practices by governments and banks, or who are descended from a Black resident who did, the Guardian reports. "Although many of the anti-Black policies have been outlawed, many remain embedded in policy, including zoning and other government practices," an alderman said. "We are in a time in history where this nation more broadly has not only the will and awareness of why reparations is due, but the heart to advance it." Evanston, which is just north of downtown Chicago, approved the policy in 2019, and the city council will vote on the first distribution this month. The initial $400,000, raised through donations and a marijuana tax, is to go toward home improvements or mortgages.

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The council's approval would make Evanston the first city to issue reparations in response to past discriminatory housing practices, per the Hill. Evanton's fair housing ordinance was passed in 1969, per NBC, but discriminatory housing practices remained in effect for years afterward. Banks would only approve mortgages for Black people for certain areas. White people set up covenants restricting residence to whites. Real estate brokers limited Black residents to a section of west Evanston. A group of activists is opposed to the current plan, saying, "Historically racist financial institutions like banks, corporations and various individuals will profit from this proposal. Reparations should not be monetized." An organizer said that the group supports the general idea but that reparations involve more than writing a check: "It's also proving the harm that took place will not take place again and ensuring that more harm will not be caused." (Read more reparations stories.)

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