Evanston, Illinois

History: Research in the Clerk’s office found multiple instances of racial discrimination perpetrated by the City of Evanston.

Harms: Relocation of Black homes: In the 1920s, Aldermen began approving permit applications to move homes to the 5th ward, most of these homes were owned by Black families.

Red-lining and segregation-driven housing policies: In the 1930s, the federal government convened the Home Owners’Loan Corporation (HOLC), which brought together mortgage lenders, developers, and real estate professionals across the country to design color-coded maps designating the credit-worthiness of certain neighborhoods. Red-lined communities were labeled as ‘hazardous” and subsequently denied FHA mortgages. These homes were located in the 5th ward. By 1940, 84% of African American households in Evanston were located within the 5th ward. Today, the 5th ward remains racially segregated.

Reparation: In March 2021, AARN pledged legal support to the reparation efforts in Evanston, Illinois. Evanston City Council was preparing to vote on the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program. The Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 on Monday, March 22, 2021 to approve the reparations program. Qualifying households will be awarded up to $25,000 for down payments or home repairs. Despite the approval by the City Council, the reparations ordinance is being threatened with legal challenges.

Summer 2021, Evanston requested that AARN develop an impact study to prepare for future legal challenges. The study demonstrated a causal relationship between historically discriminatory zoning policies and the current racial economic and housing disparities in Evanston and supported the provision of a reparations program in Evanston. AARN additionally developed an economic calculus to demonstrate the wealth impact of the Housing reparations in 20 years time.

See AARN’s impact study on Evanston here.