Daily file photo of Nick Francis
Evanston’s Reparations Committee met last Thursday to discuss the prioritization and random selection of beneficiaries for the Restorative Housing Program. which has accepted more than 146 applicants since it opened on September 21.
Assistant City Manager Kimberly Richardson shared the updated application numbers at the committee meeting. Of the applications received, demographic data is available for 107 applications by September 30th.
Of these 107 applications, 77 are from residents who submit an application direct descendant status, 29 come from residents with ancestral status and no specific qualification was specified in an application. Although the formal review has not yet begun, Richardson said the city administrator’s office has started reaching out to applicants whose records appear incomplete.
“You can tell when something is missing,” said Richardson. “We sent an email or phone call so they could provide this documentation and most of them followed suit.”
The committee will meet on November 11th to approve a final list of eligible beneficiaries after the November 5th application deadline. Non-applicants will then be permanently excluded from the Restorative Housing program, but all residents can continue to apply for any future programs.
Eventually, while only 16 residents will receive the initial distribution, the program is expected to make payments to all qualifiers, subject to future approval by the council.
Once the final list of beneficiaries is approved, they will be separated by Qualification category. Ancestors are prioritized, followed by direct descendants, and then those who experienced housing-related discrimination from city politics after 1969.
Richardson said this prioritization was chosen so that ancestors could benefit from the limited initial budget first. All ancestors receive payments before the committee moves on to the next eligible group.
“We go to the city council on a full budget and say, ‘Here’s how many people actually qualify for the program,'” said Richardson. “But we also know that funding will not be readily available because we currently only have one pharmacy.”
Committee members discussed the possible forms the process of random and anonymous appointment of beneficiaries in each group could take.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said he supported a visual selection similar to random pulling out of a bingo cage so community members can be sure that the process is transparent. However, he warned against using formulations that could suggest a tip or a fixation of the selection process.
“In political elections, they constantly use visuals to make random selections,” said Burns. “As long as we call it random selection rather than lottery, we’ll be fine.”
Once the order of beneficiaries is established, the first 16 ancestors will be notified by mail between December 1st and December 6th. Future payments to the remaining ancestors and the other two categories depend on a future budget allocation by the city council.
Committee member Claire McFarland Barber thanked Richardson for her work in outlining the program and assisting applicants with briefings and personal office hours.
“This is complicated and you made it seem easy,” McFarland told Barber. “You have broken down a lot of barriers and it’s not an easy thing.”
The next meeting of the Reparation Committee is scheduled for November 4th, one day before the application deadline.
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