San Francisco Reparations Committee Proposes $5 Million Lump-Sum Payment, Debt Forgiveness To Qualified Black Residents

A San Francisco reparations committee proposed a plan to city officials last month that would pay longtime black residents of the Northern California metropolitan city $5 million each while granting total debt forgiveness for facing decades of “systematic repression.”

The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee submitted the report to the Board of Supervisors just before the New Year, which addresses public policies created to “subjugate” black residents in the Bay Area city and includes a list of financial compensation, such as the lump-sum reparations payment of $5 million to each eligible individual.

“Centuries of harm and destruction of Black lives, Black bodies, and Black communities should be met with centuries of repair,” Eric McDonnell, committee chair, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “If you look at San Francisco, it’s very much a tale of two cities.”

McDowell serves on the panel with 15 other members established by city officials in 2021.

Such residents who qualify for the payment must meet at least two criteria from a list of requirements, which include applicants to be at least 18 years old at the time the city enacts the committee’s proposal, have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least ten years, and prove they were born in the city between 1940 and 1996.

Other requirements from the report include residents that have lived in San Francisco for at least 13 years or personally been incarcerated — or the direct descendant of someone imprisoned — during the War on Drugs, which U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon declared in 1971.

The report reads that African-Americans with less than the Area Median Income reflecting $97,000 would also receive supplements for at least 250 years.

“Racial disparities across all metrics have led to a significant racial wealth gap in the City of San Francisco,” it argues. “By elevating income to match AMI, Black people can better afford housing and achieve a better quality of life.”

The U.S. Census Bureau shows black residents total about 5.7% of the city’s population.

The Chronicle reported that the state reparations task force believes that approximately $569 billion may be due to black Californians for housing discrimination alone between 1933 and 1977.

Tinisch Hollins, the committee’s vice chair, told the outlet the reparations would “quantify that harm” from policies the city passed that “touch on the legacy of slavery.”

The report acknowledges San Francisco or the state of California never formally adopted the institution of tenets of segregation, white supremacy, systematic repression, exclusion of Black people through the legal process, or chattel slavery, which allowed the buying, selling, and owning of human beings forever.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin told The Chronicle he hopes his colleagues approve the plan.

“There are so many efforts that result in incredible reports that just end up gathering dust on a shelf,” Peskin said. “We cannot let this be one of them.”

Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission will review the final proposal in June.

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