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Newman on Kelo

[ 0 ] June 27, 2005 |

I realize everyone’s moved on, but Nathan Newman has a couple of excellent posts on the implications of the Kelo decision here and here.

…the underlying outrage is no doubt the fear that market value doesn’t reflect the value of living in a community for years that may be lost to being evicted from a home by eminent domain.

Which is accurate, but then where is the outrage at the pervasive evictions of renters from their homes by private landlords who develop property? That is far more common than eminent domain and disrupts far more communities.

This outrage on behalf of an incredibly tiny number of homeowners, while renters suffer day-to-day threat of such evictions with almost no legal resource and no democratic vote by the community, just seems out of balance, especially by progressives.

A lot of progressives opposed to Kelo evoke the horrors of urban renewal, but it’s worth remembering that the problem there was that most of the people displaced were RENTERS, and thus got no economic compensation to help them find new homes.

Even where renters are not officially evicted, rising rents drive many out of their homes and destroy communities in a repetitive manner.

So if the reaction against Kelo is based on a fear of losing existing communities that should not be priced merely at the market value of property, we should be far more politically outraged at the way private real estate markets destroy poor renters’ lives and their communities.

This is really an excellent point. When it comes to the lives of the lower middle class, renter’s rights is a vastly bigger impact issue than the margins of what constitutes eminent domain. It’d be nice to see those who were so horrified by Kelo take up related but far more important battles like renter’s rights. Rental rules tilt fairly heavily toward the landlords in many cities, while others have antiquated and inefficient forms of rent control that benefit the lucky, and skew the rental market for everyone else.

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