Updated: 6:45 AM PDT, March 24, 2021
Evanston, Illinois will become the first U.S. city to pay back its Black residents who have suffered financially from decades of discriminatory practices, according to a new report.
In a recent vote on Monday, the city council voted 8-1 to approve the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program, NPR reported. Evanston has already committed to $10 million over the next decade.
The fund will begin rolling out with $400,000 as part of its first round of payments.
In this first phase, 16 eligible Black residents will receive $25,000 to go towards home repairs, down payments, or mortgage payments, as a way to begin repairing a racist system tainted with inequitable housing policies, WGN9 reported.
Eligible residents would have to show in some way that their ancestors were victims of this very system, whether by redlining or other discriminatory practices.
City officials say that the “strongest case for reparations” is in the area of housing where there is “sufficient evidence showing the City’s part in housing discrimination as a result of early City zoning ordinances in place between 1919 and 1969,” NPR previously reported.
Evanston is 17% Black, 59% white and 12% Latino, census data shows.
Critics of the reparations don’t find it expansive enough. Sebastian Nalls, a former Mayoral candidate, told The New York Times that giving the funds to “16 Black people in a town of 12,000 Black residents is not reparation.”
Other cities may follow in Evanston’s footsteps, including Providence, Rhode Island; Burlington, Vermont; Ashville, North Carolina; and Amherst Massachusetts. Those areas have all launched similar initiatives, NBC reported.