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Saturday 23 October 2021
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City Schedules Session on Sept. 21 to Hear From Residents on Reparations, Universal Basic Income

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Mayor Lovely Warren formed a committee to explore reparations and universal basic income. File photo

Update: The city has scheduled the first virtual listening session for 7 p.m. Sept. 21.

The city wants to hear from residents about ways to right decades of economic injustice for Black and Latino residents.

Mayor Lovely Warren’s Reparations and Universal Basic Income Committee has rescheduled the first listening session for Sept. 21. It originally was to be held on Aug. 31 but was postponed because two featured speakers were unavailable because of COVID-19.

A news release from the city about 90 minutes before the scheduled start of the session did not provide details, leaving the wording vague about whether the individuals had contracted COVID. The individuals were not identified.

Residents participate by going to www.rocrubi.com/meetings-events. The event will also be livestreamed on the ROC RUBI Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RocRUBI) for those who want only to watch.

Once the session is held, transcripts of the comments will be included in the committee’s final report, according to a city spokesman.

Reparations and universal basic income are about changing lives and neighborhoods and can be a “game changer for families to overcome poverty,” Warren said in a news release announcing the session.

She has emphasized homeownership as “the way for residents to overcome poverty and build wealth and we want to exhaust every option that’s available to us in order to change outcomes.”

Warren has said owning a home helps create generational wealth and she has focused on that approach.

Warren introduced the idea of reparations in March when she sent a letter to City Council and to agencies and organizations that work to reduce poverty and promote economic equity.

She has talked about what other cities have done with the idea of reparations, and she cited the report from the city and county’s Commission on Racial and Structural Equity that highlighted disparities in wealth between minority and white families. Her Equity & Recovery Agenda includes several ways to combat poverty, such as using anticipated revenue from the legalization of marijuana to create a housing trust fund and an emergency fund.

In May, the mayor held an exploratory meeting hosted by members of her staff and for representatives of faith, community and philanthropic organizations. Only the first eight minutes – Warren’s introductory remarks – were streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

The role of the RUBI exploratory committee is to review existing universal basic income and reparation pilots in other communities to understand what programs can be developed in Rochester.

However, it’s not likely that the mayor will have input on this topic for much longer. She lost the Democratic primary to Malik Evans, and she is not on any other party line. Evans has not said much publicly since a news conference June 23, the day after the primary. At that time, he talked about his youth opportunity agenda and public safety.