Individuals first to receive Evanston reparations benefit
EVANSTON, IL – The first 16 beneficiaries of the City of Evanston’s historic Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program have selected the benefits they’ll receive as part of the program, becoming the first to receive a reparations remedy from the City for harms caused by racism and discrimination.
“This is a historic milestone and an extraordinary ‘first’ for our Black community, the City of Evanston, and the entire nation,” said Evanston Reparations Committee Chair and 2nd Ward Councilmember Peter Braithwaite. “Although these benefits in no way constitute complete repair for the harms and injustices caused by racism, they represent an important acknowledgement by the City and are the critical first steps on our path to healing.”
Building on the work of the previous City Council, under the leadership of former 5th Ward Councilmember Robin Rue Simmons, the Restorative Housing Program is the first initiative of the City’s Local Reparations initiative guided by its Reparations Committee, and is focused on preserving, stabilizing, and increasing homeownership and building intergenerational equity among Black/African American residents. The $400,000 in funding set to benefit these first 16 individuals as part of the program represents 4 percent of the City’s $10 million commitment to local reparations. Future reparations initiatives will be developed through additional community outreach by the Reparations Committee.
“After centuries of institutional racism in America, it is long past time for governments to take tangible financial steps to repair the harm that was caused,” said Mayor Daniel Biss. “In taking this historic step, the City of Evanston is acknowledging both the damage that we did and the moral responsibility we have to reverse that damage. We are closer to the beginning than the end of this effort, and I look forward to continued and sustained work on this topic.”
Since January, the committee along with City staff, including Parks & Recreation Director Audrey Thompson, Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings, Assistant to the City Manager Tasheik Kerr and Deputy City Attorney Michelle Ozuruigbo, working with Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH), have met with each of the 16 participants to guide them through the process of selecting benefits that best suited their needs. Each individual will each receive up to $25,000 to use towards a home purchase, mortgage assistance or home improvements.
Of the 16 initial recipients, six selected a home improvement benefit, six selected a combination of home improvement and mortgage assistance, two selected mortgage assistance only, and one individual selected assistance with a home purchase. Another recipient is still in the process of making a selection.
Funds have already been disbursed to the lending institutions of the two individuals selecting home mortgage assistance in the amounts of $25,000 each. In addition, partial payment has been made to begin home improvement work for another beneficiary.
All 16 recipients are identified as “Ancestors” through the City’s program, defined as African American/Black Evanstonians who were at least 18 years old between 1919 and 1969. The City’s Reparations Committee is in discussion on next steps for the remainder of the 122 qualified Ancestor applicants, and staff is in the process of verifying the Decedent category of applicants.
Support Evanston Reparations
Community members interested in supporting the City’s Reparations Fund are encouraged to make a financial contribution online.
For more information, visit cityofevanston.org/reparations or call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents may simply dial 311 in Evanston.