Evanston city council approves reparations housing program

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- The Evanston City Council voted to approve the "Restorative Housing Reparations Program" late Monday, which could become a national model.

"This is a start, although a small start. It might have some things that can be improved on but the whole point is that you have to start doing something to help rally others to get on board and make it a better process," said Dino Robinson, the founder of Shorefront Legacy Center.

The first round of $25,000 payments will go to 16 qualifying Black households for home repairs, down payments or mortgage payments.

The city council voted in 2019 to create the Reparations Fund, using tax revenue from recreational marijuana. The fund is supposed be used for housing and economic development programs for Black residents.

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If the Evanston City Council approves a reparations housing program for Black residents, it could be a national model.

Robinson has researched racism and discrimination in Evanston.

"The city of Evanston did embrace the culture of Jim Crow and they utilized it is various creative ways of enforcing that without actually putting that in the law books," he said.

Some say this isn't reparations. They say the housing plan will only help a limited number of people.

"It's a social equity housing program, which we are more than fine with passing, if they would like to change the name," said Sebastian Nalls, a former Evanston mayoral candidate and organizer for Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations.

Nalls said the vote should be put on hold until after the upcoming city council election.

"For us as members of the Black community, it's completely unacceptable to try to create a reparations program and ship that off to the rest of the nation as reparations and use that as model with it not being fully flushed out," he said.
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