Payments of $5 million to every eligible Black adult, the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family. These were some of the more than 100 recommendations made by a city-appointed reparations committee tasked with the thorny question of how to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism. And the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing the report for the first time Tuesday voiced enthusiastic support for the ideas listed, with some saying the cost should not stop the city from doing the right thing, the AP reports.
The draft reparations plan, released in December, is unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth. The committee hasn’t done an analysis of the cost of the proposals, but critics have slammed the plan as financially and politically impossible. An estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which leans conservative, has said it would cost each non-Black family in the city at least $600,000. Tuesday's unanimous expressions of support for reparations by the board do not mean all the recommendations will ultimately be adopted, as the body can vote to approve, reject, or change any or all of them. A final committee report is due in June.
Several supervisors said they were surprised to hear pushback from politically liberal San Franciscans apparently unaware that the legacy of slavery and racist policies continues to keep Black Americans on the bottom rungs of health, education and economic prosperity, and overrepresented in prisons and homeless populations. Some supervisors, however, have said previously that the city can't afford any major reparations payments right now given its deep deficit amid a tech industry downturn .
In San Francisco, Black residents once made up more than 13% of the city’s population, but more than 50 years later, they account for less than 6% of residents—and 38% of the homeless population. The Fillmore District flourished with Black-owned nightclubs and shops until government redevelopment in the 1960s forced out residents. Fewer than 50,000 Black people now live in the city, and it’s not clear how many would be eligible.
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