I attended the reparations subcommittee meeting on Friday via Zoom along with 38 Evanston residents and subcommittee members Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, 5, Ald. Ann Rainey, 8, and Ald. Peter Braithwaite, 2.
The next meeting takes place at 9 a.m. on August 28th.
Please see more details here.
Click here to contribute to the reparations fund.
Here’s a brief summary of yesterday’s meeting.
The subcommittee started by going over the restorative housing initiative details.
Restorative Housing Reparations
Restorative housing payments address past discriminatory policies/practices in housing by the City of Evanston between 1919 to 1969 towards Black residents of Evanston.
Restorative reparations may be layered with other City or external programs for which the recipient is eligible, including the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Program, and down payment and closing cost assistance through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
The Restorative Housing Reparations is budgeted for $400,000.
Eligible uses for funds
● Home Purchase
Funds may be used by eligible individuals to purchase real property located within Evanston city limits and occupied as their principal residence. The down payment/closing cost assistance is provided in the form of direct payment to the approved homeowner. Purchase assistance shall be up to $25,000.
● Home Improvement
Funds may be used by eligible individuals to improve the quality of existing property. Home improvement encourages the revitalization, preservation, and stabilization of Black homes. The home improvement assistance shall be up to $25,000.
● Mortgage Assistance
Funds may be used towards mortgage principal, interest and/or late penalties for a residential primary residence in Evanston. This can not go towards taxes, help them to build equity, The mortgage assistance shall be up to $25,000.
An applicant must meet the following criteria:
a. be a Black resident of Evanston; and
b. suffered discrimination in housing as a result of City ordinance, policy or practice; or
c. is a direct descendent of a Black Evanston resident who resided in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and who suffered discrimination in housing as a result of City ordinance, policy or practice.
Committee members discussed increasing the $400,000 budget, hoping donors will contribute to the reparations fund over and above the $10 million in revenue from the City’s three percent cannabis sales tax earmarked for reparations.
A new reparations process can be found on the City’s reparations page.
Robin Rue Simmons 5th Ward Alderman read a section of it out loud:
The Principles to guide the reparative process in Evanston
Firstly, reparative remedies can be individual or collective solutions which seek to cure harm cause by past discriminatory practices. These remedies will achieve compensation; and/or restitution; and/or rehabilitation, and/or cessation of the harmful discriminatory conduct, and/or satisfaction of the needs of those who have been harmed.
Reparative remedies are distinct from regular policies and practices intended to provide on-going services due to all residents of a district, city, county, state, or a nation.
Secondly, it is those who have been damaged i.e. black people, who must determine the specific remedies for the damages black people have suffered. They are truly the stakeholders of this process.
Stakeholders emanate, derive, come from, originate from the Black community. Their DNAs are marked by the scars of years of suffering from and of resisting racist discrimination directly or indirectly. They must help determine the specific remedies guided by the arc of justice to remedy past wrongs.
Below are a few public comments that were made during the meeting. Committee members said they will be addressed at the next meeting.
-400,000 only helps 16 people, how is the committee going to pick the 16 people if there are 100 applicants?
-How do people prove they are descendants of a Black Evanston resident who suffered housing discrimination?
-Why is it a forgivable loan and not a grant?
-If I want to purchase a home and don’t meet the legacy criteria how else can one qualify?
Read more about housing and Evanston's reparations initiative in the Evanston RoundTable.