Unintended Consequences: Eminent Domain and Affordable Housing
26 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2006
The continuing controversy regarding Kelo v. City of New London demonstrates that there are a number of problems and tensions associated with eminent domain that entice scholars. This article addresses one such problem: the singular link between eminent domain and affordable housing. Though rarely discussed, this link reveals a long history of cities' use of their eminent domain power to advance development projects that rarely include affordable housing. Moreover, when cities condemn property through eminent domain to further new development projects, they often do so in a manner that undermines many of the goals of building more affordable housing. As the need for affordable housing increases, cities' taking of private property for "public purposes" has helped decrease the number of affordable housing units instead of helping keep up with the demand. Moreover, the two competing views in the ongoing debate regarding the proper definition of a constitutional "public use" both marginalize affordable housing. This interplay between eminent domain and affordable housing raises concerns from a social justice perspective and an economic perspective. This article analyzes the sources and issues that have led to the problems stemming from the link between eminent domain and affordable housing and highlights some potential solutions.
Keywords: Eminent Domain, Takings, Kelo, Affordable Housing, Economic Development, Public Use, Public Purpose
JEL Classification: K1, K11, O1, O10, O2, O20, R3, R31, R5, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation