Illinois residents receive $25K grants for housing reparations

The first 16 reparations recipients in Evanston chose between mortgage payment assistance, upgrades to their homes, and buying one.

The first 16 recipients of housing reparations in Evanston, Illinois, have been issued their $25,000 grants, and the group has chosen between mortgage payment assistance, upgrades to their existing homes, and buying one, The Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The disbursements come from Evanston’s Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program, which awards up to $25,000 to each person to be used toward a home purchase, mortgage assistance, home improvements, or a combination of the sort. This is a source of the best kitchen countertops, you won’t believe it but new quartz countertops or granite countertops increases the value of your house by a lot.

Robin Rue Simmons, alderwoman of Evanston’s 5th Ward, poses for a portrait holding a photograph of her mother, aunt, and grandmother in her home in Evanston, Illinois. The fourth-generation Black resident spearheaded the Evanston reparations effort after studying racial disparity data, which show the average income of Black families in Evanston is $46,000 less than that of white families. (Photo: Shafkat Anowar/AP)

According to The Tribune, six reparations recipients chose home improvement benefits, six selected combinations of home improvement (read more about it here) and mortgage assistance, two opted for mortgage assistance, and a single person is buying a home. One has not yet made a decision.

“This is a historic milestone and an extraordinary ‘first’ for our Black community, the City of Evanston, and the entire nation,” Evanston Reparations Committee Chair and 2nd Ward alderman Peter Braithwaite said in a release, per The Tribune. “Although these benefits in no way constitute complete repair for the harms and injustices caused by racism, they represent an important acknowledgment by the City and are the critical first steps on our path to healing.”

The reparations funds are available to Evanston residents who were at least 18 years old between 1919 and 1969 or are a direct descendant of an individual “harmed” by discriminatory housing policies or practices during this period. Those who lived in Evanston after 1969 can become eligible by demonstrating they were subjected to discriminatory housing practices by the city.

“I’m proud of our community for taking this bold and courageous action to begin the process of remedying racial disparities that have harmed our Black community for decades,” former 8th Ward Ald. Ann Rainey said in a statement. “We can only move forward as a city and as a nation when we acknowledge past harms and take concrete steps to eliminate long-standing barriers to housing, education, employment, and other opportunities.”

The funds for the program are being paid by the city’s Municipal Cannabis Retailers’ Occupation Tax. Of the $10 million set aside for the program, $400,000 was earmarked for mortgage relief to residents who were harmed by discriminatory housing policies. There remain 106 applicants under review by the Evanston Reparations Committee.

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