Evanston City Council Approves Direct Cash Payments For Reparations Program

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The Evanston, Illinois city council has voted in favor of adding direct cash payments as an option for recipients of the city's reparations program, which was created to reckon with past housing discrimination against Black families.

On Monday (March 27), members of the Evanston city council approved direct cash payments of $25,000, passing what Council Member Devon Reid said was a “historic amendment to the reparations program,” per CNN.

Evanston, located just north of Chicago, was the first city in the nation to pass a reparations program for qualifying Black residents. The push for reparations was headed by Robin Rue Simmons, a former alderwoman of Evanston's 5th ward, where Black residents were relegated as a result of banks refusing to approve their mortgage loans in the city.

“There were specific anti-Black zoning laws and housing practices that are responsible for our racial segregation — not only our physical segregation, but our wealth gaps and home ownership gaps and all other racial gaps that we have here in Evanston,” Simmons told CNN.

The program, which was initially passed in 2019, previously awarded eligible residents with grants of $25,000 that could be used for housing repairs or for paying a mortgage or down payment on a home.

After the Reparations Committee recommended a direct cash payment option earlier this month, city council members approved the recommendation, which will be available for all grant recipients, including ancestors and direct descendants.

The direct cash payments were voted on unanimously by city council members.

“I just want to highlight how special Evanston is,” Reid said. The resolution passed with “no fuss, no folks coming out, you know, protesting. No dissent amongst the council.”

The new amendment to the reparations program will allow to the city to allocate funds “in a much more expedient fashion," Reid added.

“We will be able to get that money out to folks and be able to provide some repair to our Black community and to the harmed community who has suffered from housing discrimination,” he said.

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