The Housing Authority for the City of Houston is trying to use eminent domain to seize the property of two churches.
According various news sources and a lawsuit filed by two Houston area churches, the city is trying to implement an urban renewal program that involves the construction of a library and a 63-unit housing project. In order to complete the project, the city says it must obtain property owned by the Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church, a predominantly African-American congregation located in the neighborhood.
Eminent domain prevents the government from taking personal property without compensation. Traditionally, the government would work with property owners to negotiate a fair price for any property the government wishes to acquire.
In recent years, however, eminent domain powers have been applied more broadly in many contexts, forcing citizens and groups who do not necessarily wish to part with their property to do so in exchange for whatever compensation the courts deem fair. (more…)