Reparations Program Underway in Maryland's College Park

The city of College Park will weigh recommendations from a newly formed Restorative Justice Steering Committee aimed at acknowledging and mitigating the damage to Black communities caused by urban renewal policies.

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November 8, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Street scene in downtown College Park, Maryland

Ilovecollegepark / Downtown College Park, Maryland

As reported by Diane Bernard, next week, College Park, Maryland's Restorative Justice Steering Committee will give the city a list of recommendations for a restorative justice program aimed at uncovering the stories of residents harmed by urban renewal policies and finding ways to compensate them.

While the specific form the reparations will take is still unclear, writes Bernard,

Potential reparations include neighborhood stabilization programs, which are used to assist communities with high foreclosure rates and provide funds to low- and middle-income households, and formal preservation of the community’s history through a cultural center and public projects. Compensation could also take the form of low-income housing and other kinds of financial support, which Wojahn said will unfold as the commission gets underway.

Like other Black communities around the country, Lakeland experienced the negative impacts of urban renewal as officials branded the area 'blighted' and forced residents out in the name of redevelopment. The city's reparations program seeks to acknowledge and address some of the damage done by these policies by providing resources and support to the households affected and creating programs aimed at promoting equity. 

Other cities such as Evanston, Illinois, Asheville, North Carolina, and St. Paul, Minnesota have voted to create programs that fund housing assistance for families affected by redlining and other discriminatory housing policies.

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