(LibertySociety.com) – Following in the footsteps of Evanston, Illinois, the city of Amherst, Massachusetts, is set to become the second town in the United States to pay reparations to black Americans. The city of Evanston passed its reparations measure back in 2019, which approved the use of revenue from marijuana sales and transfer taxes from the sale of real estate for houses over $1 million to pay the expected $10 million in reparations. As of July, around $1.1 million of the revenue was available for distribution. Some residents began receiving their payments that month.
Residents who resided in the city between 1919 and 1969 are eligible to receive a $25,000 payment if they were discriminated against when seeking housing. Direct descendants of deceased people who suffered this type of discrimination will also receive a payment. The program approved the payments to be used for home down payments, home repairs, or payments to existing mortgages. Amherst plans to adopt a similar plan, using the $200,000 marijuana revenue that Massachusetts generates each year.
The Town Council established an endowment reparation fund in 2021, aiming to grow it to $2 million. It plans to spend the money on city youth programs, as well as providing affordable housing and business grants. The original plan was to donate roughly $100,000 each year after building up the fund over the next 10 years. However, the assembly is considering other possibilities such as reaching the $2 million goal in just four years, or even starting the reparations immediately by using funds borrowed from reserves.
The city plans to reference a report from the local African Heritage Reparation Assembly when deciding where to spend the funds. One document contained in the report showed proof that at least 18 residents of Amherst and another nearby town were enslaved during the 17th and 18th centuries. The report also showed how black people were excluded from society, faced housing discrimination, and were barred from certain educational opportunities. The Town Council is also considering providing direct payments to residents but has faced pushback on that front.
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