Support Evanston's Reparations Initiative: the Country's First Municipal Reparations Initiative!

Good morning, Evanston:


1. Tonight, Monday, December 14, City Council will be discussing the Restorative Housing Reparations Program. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for tonight's meeting can be found here.

Dear Evanston will share the meeting on its Facebook page.


2. Tune in to the Reparations Subcommittee meeting at 9 a.m., Friday, December 18. Register here.


3. Contribute to the Evanston Reparations Community Fund (scroll down to Evanston Reparations Community Fund), held by the Evanston Community Foundation.



About tonight's City Council meeting


The Reparations Subcommittee will recommend that the City Council discuss the local reparations proposed restorative housing programs.


Reparations, as defined by N'COBRA (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America), is the process of repairing, healing, and restoring a people who were injured, due to their group identity, in violation of their fundamental human rights by a government, corporation, institution, or individual.

Three minimum criteria established by NAARC (National African American Reparations Commission) to ensure reparations include:


-- Consistent with restorative justice principles, the government, institution, agency, or individual responsible for inflicting injury or harm cannot define the remedy. The remedy must be defined or agreed to by those who suffered the injury or harm.


-- Creating an independent structure to receive resources for restitution is a distinctive qualification for a reparatory justice initiative. Those who suffered the injury or harm must have the power to decide on the allocation of the resources for restitution and repair.


Background


In September 2019, Evanston's Equity & Empowerment Commission presented a report and recommended actions to address “repair and reparations” for Black Evanstonians. That report was in response to Ald. Robin Rue Simmons' request for assistance in identifying ways to address the historical wealth and opportunity gaps that Black residents of Evanston experience.


The Equity & Empowerment Commission recommended conducting a feasibility study to determine the viability of:


1) various housing assistance and relief initiatives for Black residents in Evanston, and


2) various Economic Development programs and opportunities for Black residents and entrepreneurs in Evanston.


Following the adoption of the Commission’s recommendations, in November 2019, the City Council adopted Resolution 126-R-19 establishing the City of Evanston Reparations Fund and the Reparations Subcommittee.


The Reparations Subcommittee was tasked with conducting the feasibility study. The first $10 million of the City’s Municipal Cannabis Retailers’ Occupation Tax (3% on gross sales of cannabis) was selected as the funding source.


As it relates to the harms inflicted against Black Evanstonians, the Reparations Subcommittee enlisted the assistance of Morris (Dino) Robinson, Jr., Executive Director, Shorefront Legacy Center, and Dr. Jenny Thompson, Director of Education, Evanston History Center, to prepare a report.


The report highlighted the evidence and factual information related to historical and contemporary instances where the City of Evanston might have facilitated, participated in, enacted, or stood neutral in the wake of acts of segregative and discriminatory practices in all aspects of engagement with the Evanston Black community.


Restorative Housing Reparations Programs to be discussed:

1. Home Ownership 2. Home Improvement 3. Mortgage Assistance


Budget: $400,000


1. Home Ownership The Home Ownership Program provides eligible Black Evanstonians with down payment/closing cost assistance to purchase real property located within Evanston city limits. The homeownership assistance may be no greater than $25,000 and maybe layered with other City or external programs for which the recipient is eligible, including down payment and closing cost assistance through the State of Illinois or United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The homeowner must occupy subject property as their principal residence.


Program Objectives:


-- To encourage the revitalization, preservation, and stabilization of Black owner-occupied homes in Evanston;


-- To increase homeownership and to build the wealth of Black residents; and


-- To build intergenerational equity amongst Black Evanstonians.


Property Eligibility


--the property must be located in Evanston


-- the property must be a single-family residence, condo or townhome, or multi-unit dwelling


-- the property must be the principal residence of the applicant


-- funding can be used toward closing costs.


2. Home Improvement

The Restorative Housing Reparations’ Home Improvement Program provides Black homeowners funds to repair, improve, or modernize their homes. The home improvement assistance may be up to $25,000 and can be layered with other City or external programs forwhich the recipient is eligible, including the CDBG Housing rehabilitation program.


Program Objectives:


-- To encourage the revitalization, preservation, and stabilization of Black owner-occupied homes in Evanston;


-- To reduce home improvement expenses for homeowners;

-- To build the wealth of Black residents; and


-- To increase home equity for Black homeowners.


Eligible Activities:

Home Improvement projects may include but not limited to:

-- Interior or exterior remodeling or beautification (including landscaping and external amenities);


-- Items which alleviate a physical hardship for disabled or elderly (egress ramps, grab bars, mobility modifications to kitchen and baths, etc.);


-- Structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and fire prevention improvements or corrections.