The ongoing process of reparations and housing in Evanston

Evanston, Illinois initiated a reparations program several years ago that would provide money for some Black homeowners. The process of funding, assessing applications, and providing monies is underway, even if it is slow-going:

But outside that ballroom, the program is failing to meet many of its initial promises. So far, the city has only spent $400,000 of the $10 million promised in 2019. Out of hundreds of Black residents who applied, 16 have received money. Another 106 are on a waiting list, with hundreds more behind them. At least five people have died before their promised reparations could be dispersed, the program’s leaders acknowledge.

City officials say these early stumbles don’t diminish their ambitions for the program, which is aimed at addressing decades of housing discrimination rather than slavery. And it’s just a starting point, they say…

The program quickly ran into problems. Instead of the three marijuana dispensaries the city was expecting, only one opened, bringing in a trickle of the tax money initially forecast. A year after the reparations effort launched, few were receiving housing vouchers…

Acknowledging the program’s slow start, the council voted in December to set aside an additional $10 million over ten years, this time from a tax on real estate sales over $1.5 million.

The fate of programs or initiatives can depend on the decisions made – and this article suggests there is ongoing discussion about whether this is the best path to pursue – as well as how they are carried out. A good or helpful decision that then gets bogged down by processes, bureaucracy, and funding is one that may be limited or worse in the end.

The portions cited above plus additional comments in the article also address the funding side of this. Can local governments effectively address the issue of reparations? Depending on the size of the community, budgets, money sources, and more, some communities will have more resources to draw on. What are the advantages to local efforts addressing housing and reparations compared to broader funding sources at higher levels of government that are also removed from the particular circumstances in individual communities?

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