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Nearly 400 applications received for reparations

If all applicants got the maximum grant amount, it would essentially exhaust the proposed 10-year funding for the entire reparations program.

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The deadline for Evanstonians to apply for the city’s restorative housing reparations program is Friday and city officials say that as of earlier this week they’d already received 398 applications.

The program is intended to offer up to $25,000 in down payment, mortgage loan or home repair assistance to Black residents who suffered housing discrimination in Evanston between 1919 and 1969, are descendants of such persons, or who can prove they suffered housing discrimination as a result of city policies more recently.

Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson says 110 people have applied saying they were direct victims of discrimination during the target period — people city staff is calling “ancestors,” 275 have applied as descendants, two have claimed more recent discrimination by the city and one “other” application has been received.

The City Council has committed to spending an overall total of up to $10 million on reparations over a 10 year period, with 40% of the first year’s funding to be devoted to the housing program.

Assuming the maximum $25,000 aid was awarded to each applicant, 400 applications would consume the entire $10 million in proposed reparations funding.

The city had projected that the reparations program would be fully funded by a 3% local tax on legal cannabis sales in Evanston, but with only one dispensary open in the city so far, revenues have fallen far short of the target.

City officials say they can’t be specific about how much funds have been raised because of state laws meant to shield sales tax data for individual businesses from their competitors.

Richardson says city staff plans to review applications from the “ancestors” group first.

After the staff review the applications will be reviewed by the city’s Reparations Committee, which has three alderpersons and four other residents as members.

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