A Chicago suburban district may be the first city in the United States to pay reparations to black residents who have endured housing discrimination.
Evanston city council, Illinois voted 8-1 to distribute $25,000 each to 16 of its 16% black residents to use for home repairs or as down payments on property. The funds come mostly from a new tax on legalised marijuana.
To be eligible, residents must be a black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969, or a descendant of such a person. The family must also have been a victim of discrimination in housing because of policies or practices in the city in that time.
Evanston has pledged to distribute $10 million over a decade. White residents in Evanston out-earn black residents by $46,000 a year.
Kamm Howard, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America said on the initiative “We’re very excited to see the first national direct benefit from some of the harms we’ve had to experience from the past.”
“The more local initiatives occur, the more impetus there is on the federal government to act.”
Discussions over how to address housing discrimination increased following a report last year that illustrated how black people had faced restrictions on where they could live dating back to 1855, when the first black resident arrived.
The impact over generations “was cumulative and permanent. They were the means by which legacies were limited and denied”.
A fair housing law was passed in Evanston in 1968, but evidence showed that black people were steered towards a section of town where they were the majority until 1985.
Hundreds of communities across the US are considering reparations to black people, including the state of California, Iowa City and Providence, Rhode Island.