• Richard Easson

Chicago Suburb to Give Reparations to Black Residents, Activists Say it’s Not Enough

Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago located only 12 miles north of the Midwest city, is on track to becoming the first in the U.S. to give reparations to its black residents.

The approved plan that dates back to 2019 says that the Restorative Housing Reparations will "financially compensate its black residents to address the wealth and opportunity gaps they have experienced because of historical racism and discrimination.”

The reparations, according to the city’s plan, will be financed through tax revenues from sales of marijuana. The proposal is to dole out $10 million over a 10-year-period.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, the program "would distribute up to $25,000 for housing per eligible resident."

According to Newsweek:

To qualify for Evanston's reparations program, Black residents must have either lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from housing discrimination, or be a direct descendant of someone who did. It was during that period that Evanston's Black families suffered from redlining and other discriminatory housing policies that prevented them from purchasing property in desirable neighborhoods, Dino Robinson, a historian and the founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center, told Newsweek.

In speaking with ABC 7 Chicago, community activists claim that the reparations don’t go far enough in addressing their issues.

Activist Kevin Brown said that “Reparations are meant to close the racial wealth gap. The program that the City of Evanston is offering does not do that.”

Sarah Bogan from Evanston Fight for Black Lives said, “Just putting money into a loan is not true reparations.”

Sabastian Nall, an organizer for Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations, said, “This housing program is not what reparations mean. It’s not all-inclusive.”

In speaking with Newsweek, Rev. Michael Nabors, president of the Evanston NAACP, said, "[W]hen it's all said and done, however much money is raised for reparations…will only be a drop in the bucket for the suffering and the oppression that Black people experienced in this nation. There is no amount of money in the world that can take the place of the pain and the suffering that was caused emotionally, that was caused psychologically."

The Evanston City Council will officially vote on the reparations program on March 22.