Third-party intermediary to disperse first reparations funds


Daily File Photo by Jeffery Wang

Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson speaks at a meeting in 2017. She outlined the procedures for distributing reparations funds through Community Partners for Affordable Housing at Thursday’s Reparations Committee meeting.

Alex Harrison, Senior Staffer

Evanston’s Reparations Committee approved nonprofit group Community Partners for Affordable Housing to distribute funds to the first 16 recipients of the Restorative Housing Program at a Thursday meeting.

Under the approved procedures, CPAH will manage and spend funds on behalf of the recipients for each of the program’s three benefit options: down payment on a home purchase, assistance with paying a mortgage and renovating an already-owned home. The group will also provide optional advising to recipients, from home purchasing classes to active management of the renovation process.

Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson said city staff decided early on that a third-party intermediary would need to administer the program’s complex payment structure. If the city paid its reparation funds directly to the beneficiaries, those funds would become taxable as income, she said. To avoid this, another party is needed to manage and spend funds on the recipients’ behalf, something Richardson said the city is unable to do.

“Because of how we worded the process and the guidelines, we actually are submitting the payment to either the financial institution, or the contractor/endors that the resident beneficiary would identify,” Richardson said. “Recognizing that, we knew quickly that we did not have the capacity internally to manage this.”

Along with Ald. Devon Reid (8th), former 5th Ward Ald. Robin Rue Simmons voted against distributing the funds through CPAH, citing the exclusivity the procedure gives the group.

Rue Simmons said the city should consider other organizations for partnership, especially those that are Black-owned and led, rather than defaulting to CPAH because of their past partnerships with the city. 

“There’s a real opportunity to do something special here, and not ordinary business as it relates to who you’re comfortable doing business with,” Rue Simmons said. “I’m just asking that we don’t have an exclusive agreement, where there is a requirement that anything has to go through CPAH.”

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) voted in support of the agreement, and said limiting CPAH’s role to managing and paying the funds will still allow recipients to control how they spend their funds.

“The community member is allowed to work with whomever they want to in terms of project management, or manage it themselves,” Burns said. “Fundamentally all this is, is who is dispersing the money.”

The committee also discussed how they will verify and order qualified applicants for their payments. All outstanding ancestor applicants — meaning those who lived in Evanston as an adult between 1919 and 1969 — have now been verified, Richardson said. All qualifying ancestors have privately been given a unique ID number. The order in which qualifiers will receive their payments will be publicly decided by physically drawing numbered balls from a randomly sorted cage. 

The committee will hold a hybrid meeting 9 a.m. Thursday at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center to perform the ancestor order selection. 

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Twitter: @alexhairysun

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