Watch CBS News

"Equity has not been enough": Illinois city issues reparations in hopes to close wealth gap

City issues reparations to close wealth gap
Illinois city issues reparations to help close wealth gap 02:28

An Illinois city chose 16 residents to receive $25,000 each in reparations in a first-in-the-nation program to address harms from slavery to discriminatory housing policies. The money from the fund, which was created back in 2019, can only go toward a home down payment, mortgages or repairing homes in an effort to increase minority property value.

Ramona Burton is one of the eligible residents of Evanston picked in a lottery to receive the reparations.

"It's a start, but I don't think it's enough for all minorities have been put through," Burton told CBS News when asked if the reparations are enough.

Robin Rue Simmons championed reparations in Evanston. She now runs First Repair, helping other communities do the same.

"The United States has harmed the black community for 403 years. Eras of terror and harm. And so repair is necessary. Equity has not been enough," she said.

Economist Ellora Derenoncourt, one of the authors of the study "Wealth of Two Nations" told CBS News without change, the gap will grow wider.

"Black Americans are concentrated at the bottom of the income and wealth distributions in the U.S. and so, as a group, have not shared equally in these gains in the economy in the past 30 or 40 years," she said.

Burton used some of her grant to replace her windows — but said the repairs are largely emotional.

"It's kind... an apology or admitting we've been wronged in the past. So it doesn't wipe away what my ancestors had to go through. But, you know, it doesn't hurt," she said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.