On Thursday, Providence mayor Jorge Elorza proposed a $10 million spending plan for federal coronavirus pandemic aid. The city’s reparations commission recommended that the funded programs cover small business development, workforce training and financial literacy/homeownership.
The Democratic mayor’s plan also consists of dedicating: $400,000 to support Black and Native American residents displaced and negatively impacted by urban renewal, $500,000 to expand the guaranteed income program for low income residents that started last summer and $250,000 to a legal defense fund for residents dealing with eviction.
“While we cannot undo the harm that has been done, I am confident these programs and investments will make great strides in closing the racial wealth and equity gaps that exist in Providence,” Elorza said.
In addition, Elorza also signed an executive order in which the city of Providence formally apologized for its role in slavery and other racist and discriminatory practices. He is currently awaiting for the spending proposal to be approved by the city council.
The reparations commission report was released Monday and named various programs Providence could launch to repent for its vast involvement in the transatlantic slave trade as well as racism and discrimination that followed for centuries.
However, it didn’t advise direct payments to Black and Indigenous residents impacted by slavery. It instead referred to “reparations” as efforts that could help resolve the “present-day racial wealth and equity gaps.”
Rodney Davis chaired the Providence Municipal Reparations Commission and appreciated the mayor for issuing a formal apology, as the commission had urged. However, he acknowledges there is still a long way to go.
“We feel like $10 million is nice, but it’s definitely not enough for true reparations,” Davis stated. “We also recognize this is a city effort and true reparations have to be on a larger scale. It has to not just be government, but also private enterprise.”