Government /

San Francisco Reparations Advisory Committee Proposes Paying $5 Million to Each Black Resident

The proposal says the one-time, lump sum payments would compensate for harm caused by both by slavery and by the city's own actions

The government of San Francisco has been advised to pay each African American resident of its city $5 million to rectify past wrongdoings.

San Francisco’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee released a draft proposal suggesting the reparations payment would compensate for slavery as well as the city’s own role in harming the community.

“Since the forced enslavement of people of African descent, there has been both resistance to the institution of chattel slavery and demands for redress thereof,” wrote the advisory committee in the report. “The genetic, psychological, financial, and racial trauma experienced by Black Americans through US chattel slavery is one of the greatest crimes against humanity perpetuated by our nation.”

“This report joins the contemporary discourse about reparations–specifically expanding on the understanding of the role that city governments have played in perpetuating harms that further marginalize their African American communities,” stated the committee. “The recommendations included are proposed to combat the ongoing, explicit, anti-Black discrimination that Black citizens in San Francisco continue to experience.”

The advisory committee said it has identified “various programmatic and policy decisions” that have “enshrined and perpetuated” harm to Black residents of San Francisco.”

According to the proposal, a one-time, lump sum payment of $5 million to each Black resident of the city would “compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced, and will redress the economic and opportunity losses” which were caused by “intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy.”

The payments would cost San Francisco an estimated $50 billion. San Francisco’s annual budget is $14 billion for comparison.

The committee has also proposed San Francisco supplement the incomes of Black lower-income households to reflect the Area Median Income for a minimum of 250 years. The AMI of San Fransico in 2022 was $97,000.

The proposal also requests the city provide access to financial education, create a public bank framework for “unbanked” people, offer retirement services, recruit a Black-owned community bank, and offer tax credits for those who qualify for reparations. 

San Francisco was also asked to dispel all educational, personal, and credit card debts as well as payday loans incurred by Black households. 

In addition to being at least 18 years of age and being Black “on public documents for at least 10 years,” residents will qualify for reparations and the additional suggested support if they met two of eight criteria, which include: being born in the city between 1940 and 1996 and resided there for at least 13 years, having migrated to the city between 1940 and 1996 and having resided there for at least 13 years, being “personally, or the direct descendant of someone, incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs,” show proof “of attendance in San Francisco public schools during the time of the consent decree to complete desegregation within the school system,” be a “listed, or the direct descendant of, a Certificate of Preference holder,” or have been “displaced, or the direct descendant of someone displaced, from San Francisco by Urban Renewal between 1954 and 1973.”

Residents could also be either the “descendant of someone enslaved through US chattel slavery before 1865” or a “member of an historically marginalized group that experienced lending discrimination in San Francisco between 1937 and 1968 or, subsequently, experienced lending discrimination in formerly redlined San Francisco communities between 1968 and 2008.”

The advisory committee’s proposal was prepared by the staff of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. It will be reviewed and considered by Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

The city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee was established in May 2021 and is comprised of 15 appointed members. The group focuses on “improving education, housing, workforce development, economic opportunities, financial stability, small businesses, transit access, and food security while reducing violence, health disparities and over-criminalization” of Black people in San Francisco.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*