New York mayor proposes 'reparations' program to be funded with marijuana revenue

The mayor of Rochester, New York, has come up with her own plan to issue reparations, a universal basic income, and a homeownership initiative.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

The mayor of Rochester, New York, has come up with her own plan to issue reparations, a universal basic income, and a homeownership initiative. Mayor Lovely Warren will use revenue from marijuana sales to fund these initiatives.

This initiative, according to city officials, is intended to "close the wealth gap between Black, brown and white residents," according to local news.

Warren made these statements in a letter to the Ibero American Action League. She wrote that the pending legalization of marijuana would allow for reparations to be funded with that revenue. Warren does not get into details of how reparations, UBI, or a marijuana-revenue-funded homeownership program would work.

Mayor Warren writes:

"The recent report by the RASE Commission made plain the stark realities that exist in our community and made a strong call for all of us to take action to address these historic inequities. It also highlighted that the 25th Congressional District is one of the worst for Black and Brown people. Beyond changing policies and procedures, we must do more to close the wealth gap between Black and Brown people and our White residents. With marijuana legalization on the horizon in New York, we have an opportunity we never had before to bring real resources to bear to uplift our families and improve, not just their financial wellbeing, but their very future.

"I believe that among the best and most sustainable ways to achieve these goals is through the payment of reparations with the establishment of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) program, or through a homeownership program.

"Therefore, I am humbly requesting that you provide a representative to work with my Chief of Staff,Brittaney Wells, and our Chief Equity Officer, Dr. Cephas Archie, to explore these concepts and develop a fair and equitable plan for funding and implementation. I understand the magnitude of this undertaking and know that it will take the support of not just the City, but our government, business, non-profit and community partners to achieve. That is why I am calling upon you to join us in this effort.

"The exploratory committee will be charged with reviewing the UBI and reparation pilots in other cities to determine how we could develop this life-altering program for Rochester, and possibly a City-sponsored home ownership mortgage program. These other cities can serve as examples and provide data to support the creation of these initiatives in our city. Just this week, Oakland, CA and Evanston, IL adopted legislation to begin similar programs in their cities. It is also important to note that historically the concept of a UBI has had wide support including from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and formerPresident Richard Nixon.

"We should not let this moment pass us by. With the legalization of marijuana on the horizon, we have the ability to enact legislation locally to make the concept of reparations through a UBI and homeownership a reality for Rochester and its families. To this end, I hope you will join our effort to shape this initiative to finally resolve the historic inequities that exist in our community.

"Thank you for your time and consideration. Ms. Wells will follow up with you directly regarding your participation. I appreciate your continued dedication to lifting up all the people of Rochester."

Marijuana is on the verge of being legalized in New York, but it hasn't gotten all the way there yet.

Evanston, IL, has instituted a program for reparations that will require black residents to prove ancestry during a period of time in Illinois during which black citizens were economically and legally disenfranchised.

Oakland, CA, has instituted a universal basic income program that is for low-income residents who are specifically not white.

New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission, that will explore the concept of reparations for black residents in New York.

Doctors in Boston have called for giving preferential medical treatment to black residents, and have also called on the Biden administration to give create a federal reparations program.

The Biden administration is exploring the viability of a federal reparations program, as reported in an Executive Order.


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