Well, glory be! 

Eligible Black residents in Evanston, Illinois, have begun receiving reparations payments. In 2019, the city committed to spending $10 million on local reparations over a 10-year period. 

Black residents have begun receiving down payment housing grants of $25,000 for repairs or existing mortgages in an effort to atone for the city’s racist housing practices in the past.

Evanston, a suburb 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, will fund the allotments from a 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana and a real estate transfer tax on properties worth over $1 million when they are sold. Thus far, according to city officials, more than $1.1 million in revenue has been generated.

An Evanston city manager told the press that 48 recipients are currently eligible to receive payments, with 16 already in possession of their payments. To qualify for the grants, residents must have lived in the city between 1919 and 1969, and been victims of housing discrimination or the direct descendant of a Black person who fulfilled those criteria.

How this success will appear across the country will be closely watched, although it’s sure to take different forms and outcomes if similar plans are developed. 

Emulation of Evanston’s strategy would include beginning with a thorough understanding of a city’s history, particularly where racism and discriminatory actions played critical roles in denying opportunities to Black residents.  

In effect, Evanston has taken a decisive step in advancing the push for reparations, which is sure to give additional impetus to other programs in motion, such as the one in California. 

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