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Reparations panel OKs housing aid plan

Evanston's Reparations Subcommittee this morning approved plans to provide mortgage assistance to Black home buyers and home improvement loans to Black homeowners.

Robin Rue Simmons.

Evanston’s Reparations Subcommittee this morning approved plans to provide mortgage assistance to Black home buyers and home improvement loans to Black homeowners.

Under the plan, recipients would have to show that they suffered discrimination in housing as a result of an Evanston city ordinance, policy or practice or are direct descendants of someone who suffered such discrimination between 1919 and 1969.

For home buyers the program would provide $25,000 to assist with the down payment and closing costs on a home.

For home owners the program would provide up to $25,000 to make improvements to the home.

The plan calls for capping program funding at $400,000 a year, with the money to come from the city’s share of sales tax on adult cannabis sales.

The subcommittee’s chair, Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, voted for the proposal as did Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward. The subcommittee’s third member, Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, was unable to attend the session.

Ann Rainey.

Rainey said the sales tax generated about $35,000 last month, which the city will receive in October and that she anticipates “exponential growth” in the revenue in the future, once additional marijuana licenses are approved, which she said is expected next month.

She also said operators of the city’s existing dispensary plan to double the size of the space they are renting in the city’s Maple Avenue parking garage with the expanded facility scheduled to open in October.

“Smoke more dope,” Rainey joked, because it will help fund the reparations program.

The program now goes to the full City Council for its review.

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