Using Eminent Domain to Keep People in Place

Richmond, California is prepared to become the first city in the U.S. to use eminent domain, a power traditionally utilized to force owners to vacate their land in the name of the public good, for the purposes of stopping foreclosures.

"Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a novel way to stop foreclosures," reports Shaila Dewan. "The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond."

"The banks and the real estate industry have argued that such a move would be unprecedented and unconstitutional. But [Robert Hockett, a Cornell University law professor] says that all types of property [PDF], not just land and buildings, are subject to eminent domain if the government can show it is needed to promote the public good, in this case fighting blight and keeping communities intact. Railroad stocks, private bus companies, sports teams and even some mortgages have been subject to eminent domain."

Full Story: In a Shift, Eminent Domain Saves Homes


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