San Francisco reparations committee proposes a $5 million payment to each Black resident
The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee, created in 2020 under the city’s human rights commission, was tasked to develop a plan to address “the institutional, City sanctioned harm that has been inflicted upon African American communities.”
The committee has no authority to implement its recommendations. Brittni Chicuata, director of economic rights at the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee, said the San Francisco Board of Supervisors received a draft of the 60-page proposal in late December and is expected to accept, amend or reject it. A hearing to discuss their decision has not been set yet, Chicuata added.
The final report will be submitted in June and include the board’s feedback, Chicuata said.
The proposal includes dozens of recommendations related to financial reparations, housing, job creation, education, the school-to-prison pipeline, health and local policy.
To be eligible for reparations, San Francisco residents must be 18 years or older, have been identifying as Black or African American on public documents for at least 10 years, and meet two of eight additional criteria, including having been born or migrating to the city between 1940 and 1996 as well as showing proof of at least 13 years of residency; Having been incarcerated “by the failed War on Drugs” or being the direct descendant of someone who was; Being a descendant of someone who was enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865; Having been displaced between 1954 and 1973 or being a descendant of someone who did; Being part of a marginalized group who experienced lending discrimination in the city between 1937 and 1968 or in “formerly redlined” communities within the city between 1968 and 2008, according to the committee’s plan.
The one-time, lump sum payment of $5 million “would compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced and will redress the economic and opportunity losses that Black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy,” the plan states.
The committee also recommended that the city supplement the income of lower-income households to match the area’s median income for at least 250 years as a way to address the racial wealth cap in San Francisco. The area’s median income was $97,000 last year, according to the draft plan.
“While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the values of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were legally codified and enforced,” the committee said in their plan.
The group is also calling on authorities to issue a formal apology to Black communities for past harm and establish an independent reparations office to execute the plan.
John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, criticized the plan, saying the $5 million payments would put the city in financial trouble. He also said it is unclear how the committee determined that amount because the report did not detail its calculations.
“I think there’s a discussion of good faith to be had about this (reparations) and this isn’t the way to do it. I think it’ll also, lastly, if it does pass (plan), I think it’ll be challenged in the courts aggressively,” Dennis said.
The committee wants the proposal to be a mobilizing tool “that really gets some bold things done,” Chicuata said.
“The hope is that there will be action taken and that this document can serve as a roadmap to really address the legacy of slavery,” Chicuata said.
San Francisco is among several cities and states across the country working to atone for the harms caused by slavery and institutional racism. The efforts gained momentum on the heels of the national uprising in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in 2020, which rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement. Reparations measures have been passed in Evanston, Illinois, where eligible residents received $25,000 to put toward a down payment on a home, mortgages or home repairs, and several other cities have created reparations commissions.
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