Evanston, Illinois, has become the first U.S. city to make reparations to its Black residents for its past discrimination and racism.
Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 Monday to distribute $400,000 to eligible Black residents. Each household will receive $25,000 to use for home repairs or a down payment on property. In order to qualify, residents must have either lived in or be a direct descendant of a Black resident who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and who suffered discrimination in housing due to city ordinances, polices, or practices.
The plan will be funded by a 3% tax on recreational marijuana and donations. The city has pledged to distribute $10 million over the next 10 years under the plan.
A bevy of other cities including Chicago, Providence, RI, Burlington, VT and Asheville, NC have all launched reparation initiatives, but have not released specific details, according to Reuters. California and New York have also introduced similar initiatives for their Black residents.
The Jesuit order of Catholic Priests also announced a $100 million pledge to benefit descendants of slaves it once owned.
“Reparations is the public policy prescription that addresses – and redresses – systemic racism,” Ron Daniels, who oversees the National African American Reparations Commission told Reuters.
The plan is expected to be challenged in court but Alderman Rue Simmons, who proposed the program in 2019, told NBC News pro reparations groups will offer pro bono legal services if the program is challenged in court.
Black homeownership in the U.S. still lags significantly behind White homeownership. According to the Urban Institute, since the Great Recession the gap in homeownership rates between Black and White Americans has increased to its highest level in 50 years and was 30 percentage points in 2017.
That year the White Americans homeownership rate was 71.9%. For Black Americans, the rate was 49.8%, which represented a two point drop from 2010.
The lack of homeownership among Black residents also shows the wealth gap between the two. Home ownership is one of the best ways to accumulate generational wealth in the U.S.