Evanston Offers Reparations to African American Residents

The national discussions on reparations for African Americans have been nonstop for the last few years. Well, it looks like policies are now being implemented, particularly in the state of Illinois.

As a way to make amends for redlining policies and housing discrimination in the past, Evanston, Illinois, is offering reparations to its Black residents. According to the Western Journal, Evanston passed a fair housing ordinance in 1969, making biased housing practices unlawful. So if Black residents in Evanston can prove their residency, or their parents’ or grandparents’ residency, between 1919 and 1969, they will be eligible for a $25,000 grant for homeownership. With this grant, they would receive money to purchase a home, pay their mortgage, or make home improvements.

This grant will be the first phase of a $10 million reparations plan. As for the reasoning behind its implementation, alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons advised the following:

“I thought that we, as a city, might localize a reparative policy to empower the black community and help rebuild wealth that had been stripped away due to predatory practices and other anti-black practices.”

“It may look different from city to city, but the toolkit that we have developed in Evanston certainly is one that is replicable and includes starting with a very public process, understanding the history of the city, and where white supremacy and anti-blackness plays a role that has disadvantaged the black community.”

The grant, however, has garnered some backlash. A Facebook group entitled the Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations, organized by 2020 Evanston mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls, made a post advising that this form of reparations would enrich the banks. Activists are also upset that there is a limit to who is eligible for the grant, arguing that any Black person living in Evanston could’ve been exposed to racism.

The statement that was written against the reparations proposal stated the following:

To qualify for the reparations program, an individual must be the descendants of residents that lived in Evanston between 1919-1969 and/or evidence that they had faced racial disparities. Racial harm deserving of repair did not begin or end in those windows of time.

Even with the $25,000, it noted, “residents would still need a large influx of cash for any down payment and have good credit to secure any mortgage from banks. The forces that had been historically benefiting from the racist policies of redlining and housing discrimination are now benefiting from a program aimed at undoing their harm.

ALL Black residents of Evanston have been exposed to racism and are owed repair, but creators of the program say the limited impact of the current proposal is because of the size of the fund.

However, this only reinforces our claim that the proposed program is incomplete and deserves more community involvement. The lack of community input has resulted in a reparations plan that would be detrimental to Black people and the larger movement.

We have come together as residents to fight against fake reparations. We reject racist reparations and demand a better, more responsive, more complete program that provides access to reparations acts of actual repair to Black folks.

The City Council was expected to vote on the $25,000 grant today, March 22, 2021. So I will keep you all updated on any new findings.

Until Next Time…


Photo Credit: Patch

Golden, C. D. (2021, March 14). America’s First Reparations Experiment a Complete Disaster as Black Recipients Complain $25,000 Payments Are Not Enough. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.westernjournal.com/americas-first-reparations-experiment-complete-disaster-black-recipients-complain-25000-payments-not-enough/


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