A Chicago suburb has become the first city in the nation to begin disbursing reparations payments to black residents over discrimination and limited access to housing, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Approximately 140 residents in Evanston, Illinois, will receive $25,000 from the city by the end of the year, according to the outlet.
In 2019, the city of roughly 75,000 residents approved a $10 million reparations package to be distributed over 10 years. So far, the city has already disbursed reparations payments to sixteen qualified residents, the Evanston Round Table reported.
Individuals must have been at least 18 years old and resided in the city between 1919 and 1969 to qualify for the payments.
The city is providing reparations in cash or vouchers, which are supposed to come from marijuana and real-estate transfer taxes.
However, the Evanston Round Table noted that the marijuana sales tax revenue slowed after the opening of a second dispensary in the city was delayed. Another location is scheduled to open in September, which will help cover the reparations program.
City officials anticipate that the entire program will be funded, in part, due to Evanston’s graduated real estate transfer tax. Evanston’s assistant to the city manager, Tasheik Kerr, stated that $1,188,000 has already been collected to cover reparations disbursements.
Justin Hansford, the head of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, said he sees the city’s reparations plan as “a test run for the whole country.”
Despite being the first city in the country to distribute funds, some are still unsatisfied with the payments.
Resident and civil rights activist Bennett Johnson accused the city’s 1969 cutoff year of being “totally arbitrary” despite the city passing a fair-housing law at that time.
Johnson argued that black residents were still being “discriminated” against and “hurt,” the Evanston Round Table reported. He also contended that the payments were not enough.
“I believe that [Evanston is] doing the same thing that we’ve done in the past, downgrading the ability of Black people to do things for themselves,” Johnson stated. “We could realize that if we don’t let Black people control this, we [are] still doing the same thing that we’ve done in the past.”
Conversely, Ramona Burton, one of the reparations recipients, stated that she believes the payment is “a good start.”
“It’s better than a blank,” she added.