City Council approves direct cash payment option for reparations


Daily file photo by Mika Ellison

Ald. Devon Reid (8th). The proposal to add direct cash payments as an option for the Restorative Housing Program was passed on the consent agenda.

Shannon Tyler, City Editor

City Council approved direct cash payments for all Restorative Housing Program recipients Monday. 

The option adds to the program’s payment structure, which previously allowed recipients to direct a $25,000 grant toward a down payment on home purchases, mortgage payments or home renovations. 

The proposal came before the council Monday and passed in a unanimous vote on the consent agenda. 

“This is how special Evanston is, that tonight we passed a historic amendment to our reparations program and it was just on the consent agenda,” Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said during the meeting. “There was no pause, no folks coming out protesting, no dissent among the council.” 

The Restorative Housing Program is the first step of the city’s reparations initiative, which aims to redress institutional harm for Black residents who were 18 years or older from 1919 to 1969. The Reparations Committee approved the direct cash payments option at their March 16 meeting.

Some residents have argued that distributing cash-only reparations will give recipients more flexibility in using their benefits.

In its March 2 meeting, the Reparations Committee voted to allow two recipients to receive their benefits in cash. Both recipients were renters who were unable to take advantage of any of the home improvement benefits with the distribution options previously allowed through the program. 

In a memo to Council, the city’s Law Department raised the issue of tax liability with the cash payments. The payments would need to come from a general welfare fund, instead of the city’s Reparations Fund, to ensure the beneficiary is exempted from income tax on the money, the department said. 

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Twitter: @shannonmtyler

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