It took decades for Evanston to commit to paying reparations to black residents for historic racial discrimination, and it may take a few more months for housing subsidy recipients to get their funds.
As previously reported by the Roundtable, the city’s local repair repair housing program is the first initiative of the city’s $ 10 million commitment; 4% of the total ($ 400,000) is spent on housing. Applicants who are deemed eligible and selected can receive up to $ 25,000 in funds to buy a home, renovate a home or pay off their mortgage. The house must be located in Evanston and must be the applicant’s primary residence, and the application window closed on November 5. The figure of $ 400,000 is sufficient to fund 16 grants of $ 25,000.
To be eligible for this program, Black Evanstonians must meet one of the following three criteria:
- Black residents who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 (called “ancestors”).
- Direct descendants of a black resident from the period 1919 to 1969.
- Or they must be able to present evidence proving discrimination in housing due to City policies or practices after 1969.
Initially, the committee had a deadline of November 11 to approve applications and a deadline of November 30 to select the first 16 grant recipients, using a random process to choose from approved applicants. None of these deadlines were met. The deadline to approve all outstanding requests is now December 15th. No new deadline has been set for the selection of grant recipients.
On December 2, the Thursday morning repairs committee meeting at the Lorraine P. Morton Civic Center fell into a lull as committee members tried to determine what exactly needed to be approved by city council before the allocation of grants. cannot begin. Members wondered if there was any action to be taken by the board or if sending the first 16 recipients would only be a formality.
Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson said she initially contacted Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) to “cut the check to be given to financial institutions or the seller.” The reason for CPAH’s partnership, said Richardson, is to help ensure that sellers are paid on time, to help with construction management, and to leverage the existing relationships CPAH has with financial institutions, to ensure that people wishing to pay a mortgage are served fairly. .
An exclamation from a member of the community made the discussion livelier, after the woman shouted, “Who is CPAH? Because from our understanding as members of the community, we thought it would be the community [dispersing funds]. “
The committee chair, Peter Braithwaite, member of 2nd Ward Council, and Richardson attempted to postpone the dispersal discussion to another time when CAHPP representatives could be present. But former board member Robin Street Simmons, along with others like board member Bobby Burns, 5th Ward, began asking specific questions about whether the CPAH expected to be paid for its role. “When there was an introduction on compensation or some sort of financial deal, we all agreed that we weren’t supporting that,” Simmons said.
Committee member Carlis Sutton said he was concerned about the committee’s credibility in effectively addressing community concerns. “I think we should have the capacity to fix these issues right here. “
“We had a relationship with the CPAH, which provided housing and continues to provide housing programs in partnership with the city. It was a natural partnership to come to the committee, ”said Richardson.
She said the initial MoU with the group was “an administrative decision on my part, to find someone to disperse the funds, who had an existing relationship with [the city]. … They weren’t asking for funds or asking for any kind of [compensation] for their services, ”said Richardson.
“So I’m going to take ownership of the MOU conversation because I literally saw it as a transactional partnership that they weren’t billing the city for. It was not the president, it was me who put in place this original memorandum of understanding. But that has now been abandoned.
Update on repair data
As of December 2, the Town of Evanston Repairs Fund has received $ 31,510 in donations, reported Tasheik Kerr, assistant city manager.
Over 600 applications have been submitted to the Restorative Housing Program. Ancestors will be given priority in the selection of the first 16 grant recipients, and there have been 146 ancestor applications submitted, with 13 more ancestor applications pending. Officials said an application is considered pending if it was not accompanied by proper identification or documentation, and if the applicant did not respond to prompting emails from the city. . The city will make a final attempt to contact outstanding ancestor candidates by phone before the December 15 deadline.
Richardson told the committee that all applicants will receive a physical letter verifying whether they will be considered a direct ancestor or descendant. For pending ancestor seekers who have yet to respond, she said the letter will say the city has not heard from the applicants and warn that they will be moved to the direct descendants category. they cannot provide the information requested.
Community wealth day
Saturday December 4th will be Community Wealth Day at Faith Temple Church, 1932 Dewey Avenue, hosted by the Dearborn Realtist Board. Self-Help Federal Credit Union, a nonprofit organization that serves people across the country and has locations in South Chicago, is “committed to the redress effort,” said Simmons.
The reparations panel will meet in January
The Evanston Repairs Committee was established on November 9, 2020 and is tasked with working with residents and city experts to “explore and identify programs and opportunities to be supported by the Repairs Fund,” according to the site. City web.
The committee meets the first Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. and does not meet until January, an intentional decision by committee chair Peter Braithwaite. “We’re going to slow this thing down,” Braithwaite said. “We will make sure that everyone walks and we [in lockstep]. “