Updated: March 26, 2021 10:15 AM
Created: March 25, 2021 10:43 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The City of Rochester is exploring the idea of paying reparations to the most disadvantaged people in Black and brown city neighborhoods.
News10NBC has obtained a letter from Mayor Lovely Warren spelling out a plan to establish a Universal Basic Income program.
The letter was sent to the Ibero-American Action League and signed by Warren. The letter specifically asks for the organization's support in this effort.
The letter, dated Thursday, calls for payment of reparations with the establishment of a "UBI" program. Warren says a recent report by the RASE Commission brought to light the stark realities that exist in our community. It addresses historic inequities seen in both Black and Brown communities in the city. While the letter does not indicate what the eligibility requirements would be, it seeks the support of the Spanish-speaking community.
One leader from Ibero told News10NBC, no one was aware of the letter. Ibero declined to comment. The letter also caught others by surprise.
"Well, this is the first I'm hearing of it," Rochester City Councilman Malik Evans said.
Rochester is looking to do what cities like Evanston, Illinois plan to do: Use tax money raised from the possible legalization of recreational marijuana sales. The letter says the goal is to help close the wealth gap with White residents. Evans, who is also running for mayor, shared his thoughts.
"I think any conversation related to how money related to marijuana is spent I think those conversations are best had in the community," Evans said. "I think that people will propose a multitude of things, but I think that it's important to have a larger community conservation."
The Universal Basic Income program would be how reparations are paid out either through a still-to-be-determined monetary sum or through a City-sponsored homeownership mortgage program.
Urban League of Rochester President/CEO Dr. Seanelle Hawkins says she excited about the possibilities this could bring.
"We know homeownership and entrepreneurship are critical to closing the wealth gap, and creating wealth for individuals especially Black and Brown communities, and so this is exciting to see this exploration to help our community pull itself up, and create opportunity for economic security," Hawkins said.
We expect to learn more about this proposal from City Hall. The city launched a web page, which you can find here.
The full letter is below (click here if you're using a mobile device):
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