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New program to offer cash to Black residents

The Family Independence Initiative today announced the Evanston Equitable Recovery Fund, a program to provide 25 Evanston qualified residents with a $300 per month payment for 10 months.

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The Family Independence Initiative today announced the Evanston Equitable Recovery Fund, a program to provide 25 Evanston qualified residents with a $300 per month payment for 10 months.

The $75,000 program is privately funded by the initiative and supported financially by Economic Security for Illinois.

“Evanston’s investment in the descendants of slavery is important, not simply because it’s the first government entity to do so, but because the city continues to find ways to do more,” said Family Independence Initiatives National Partnership Director Ebony Scott. “The cash initiatives FII operates around the country demonstrate success: people do better for themselves and their communities if they are given the funds they need.”

“We are grateful that FII and ESIL recognize our commitment to repair and justice in the Black community with this partnership. This program allows us to pilot this benefit with the hopes to build and expand it in the future–including, we hope, a transition to unrestricted cash benefits for qualified residents,” said Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, chair of the city’s Reparations Subcommittee. “Repair is needed urgently in the Black community, and we will keep taking tangible steps to make that happen.”

“This is us saying yes to a cash fund,” said Subcommittee member Alderman Peter Braithwaite. “I want to thank the Family Independence Initiative and Economic Security for Illinois for the investment and support in our effort to bring reparations to Evanston. I am confident that this is the first step toward continuing future partnership.”

Key to the initiative is that there are no requirements for how recipients must spend their money–recipients can spend it as they choose. This differs from many anti-poverty government efforts, including the city’s own proposed Reparations Fund, which must be used to cover housing costs, including down payment assistance, mortgage or home repairs.)

“Whenever a local government puts unrestricted cash directly in the hands of residents who need it most, that’s progress,” said Harish I. Patel, Director of Economic Security for Illinois. “We are proud to partner with Evanston in its efforts to bring cash to people.”

Applications for the fund are now open and will close Monday, April 5 at 9 a.m. The fund will randomly select 25 recipients who qualify. The fund is administered through FII’s UpTogether platform, which hosts and implements other direct cash distribution efforts across the country. Only one application per household will be accepted, and applicants must demonstrate that they or an ancestor lived in Evanston between 1919-1969. To submit an application, residents should visit fund.uptogether.org/evanston.

Evanston’s program builds on the success of similarly conceived guaranteed income pilots that have been gaining traction around the world. Recently released data from a guaranteed income pilot in Stockton, California, found that recipients of $500 monthly checks were twice as likely to pay unexpected bills or pay down debt, saw increased job security and decreased income volatility, and found increased overall stability in the broader community. Results demonstrated that the recipients mostly used monthly checks to cover essentials, like gas, groceries and utilities.

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