Black residents living in San Francisco may be eligible for $5 million each under new plans to reward the “decades of harm they have experienced”.
The proposal was drafted by the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee (AARAC) with the city’s Board of Supervisors.
To qualify for the lump sum payment, individuals need to meet a series of criteria, including identifying as black on public records for the past 10 years and being at least 18 years old.
They would also need to meet two out of eight additional standards, including having been born or having moved to the city between 1940 and 1996 and having lived there for a minimum of 13 years.
“A lump sum payment would compensate the affected population… 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 proposal stated.
The committee also suggested wiping out all debts associated with educational and personal loans, credit cards and payday loans for black households.
“Black households are more likely to hold costlier, riskier debt, and are more likely to have outstanding student loan debt,” the proposal said. “When this is combined with lower household incomes, it can create an inescapable cycle of debt. Eliminating this debt gives Black households an opportunity to build wealth.”
If greenlit, it would mean all low-income households have their incomes matched to the city’s median income – $97,000 in 2022 – for 250 years.
The 15-member panel was established in May 2021 by the San Francisco supervisors. A separate body studying reparations was created by the California state legislature.
The proposal also suggests San Francisco “issues a formal apology for past harms, and commits to making substantial ongoing, systemic and programmatic investments in black communities to address historical harms”.
The proposal will be submitted to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in June.
California was never a slave state – as slavery was never legalized. However, the proposal cited local laws it said had debilitating effects on the black population in San Francisco.
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These include segregation laws and legal restrictions on where black families could live. Some city-wide zoning laws effectively forced the community into ghettos which were abandoned later.
Other qualifiers for the proposal would include being able to demonstrate that an individual was descended from a slave or was directly descended from somebody affected by the urban renewal policies, mentioned above, of the 1900s.
Anyone descended from someone incarcerated – or incarcerated themselves – due to the War on Drugs campaign would possibly be eligible for the cash.
“There are so many efforts that result in incredible reports that just end up gathering dust on a shelf,” San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Peskin told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We cannot let this be one of them.”