A conservative not-for-profit group based in Washington, D.C., has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court claiming Evanston has failed to disclose records about its reparations program.

The complaint filed by Judicial Watch alleges that the city failed to adequately respond to the group’s Freedom of Information Act request for information about why the city chose its method of remedying discriminatory housing policies, how the program will remedy discrimination and what other kinds of discrimination, regardless of racial group, the city has considered providing remedies for.

“A government program that provides taxpayer money to individuals based on race plainly violates the law,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The City of Evanston is unlawfully hiding records about its extremist reparations program that will spend tax dollars in a racially-discriminatory manner.”

The City Council adopted a resolution last month authorizing implementation of the reparations program, which is designed to spend $10 million over the next 10 years. The resolution allocated the first $400,000 of the funding to provide housing aid in the form of forgivable loans of up to $25,000 for down payment assistance, home improvements or mortgage loan reductions.

Eligibility for the funds is limited to Black residents who can show that either they or an ancestor lived in the city between 1919 and 1969, a period when city staff says the city had racially discriminatory housing policies, or to Black residents who can demonstrate more recent housing discrimination by the city.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.