Evanston townhall held on reparations program


EVANSTON, Ill. —The city of Evanston hosted a town hall Saturday to update residents on its reparations program.

The townhall explained the framework of the reparations to residents.  

A panel of leaders talked about the example the program is setting across the country.  

But they say the important thing for residents to do is apply.  

“We are aware that the acknowledgement of what we owe is morally critical, but the repayment of what we owe is going to take a long time,” Mayor Daniel Bliss said.

In 2019 Evanston’s Restorative Housing Program was launched and 16 recipients a $25,000 housing stipend for home repairs or down payments.  

They are all Black residents who had an ancestor living in Evanston between 1919 and 1969.  

Robin Rue Simmons is on the Evanston Reparations Committee. 

“Our efforts have inspired the nation with over 100 cities and localities taking steps towards repair, modeling what we’ve done here in Evanston. And we’ve also inspired international efforts as well,” she said.

A panel of local leaders responded to questions about reparations.

Funding for the reparations comes from tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales, something panelist say they know is not supported by everyone, but that could have an educational purpose.  

Assay Horibe is the president of Buddhist Council Midwest. 

“Historically, when something bad happens to people, they kind of put it out of their mind and they want to forget about it. But there has to be a line where justice is going to be served,” Horibe said.

Evanston has committed to distribute $10 million in reparations over 10 years.  

Their pledge is already causing a ripple effect across the country.   

“It’s important to know in 2019, before we passed local reparations, there were 65 co-sponsors for HR 40. Today, there are 217 yes votes and co-sponsors in the house for HR 40,” Simmons said.

Evanston leaders say they recognize this is just a small step towards recovery.  

Now, they need people to apply.  

“People need to be able to be brave enough to apply, to work at, to prove that they were subjective to, that their family was subjected to and where did they live,” Horibe said. 

Present at Saturday’s meeting were also financial representatives to help beneficiaries in finding the route that best works for them and their stipends.  

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