Thursday, June 25, 2015

Regulatory Taking on an Unprecedented Scale

The Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause” stipulates that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Many state constitutions provide additional limitations on eminent domain, such as California’s, which stipulates that such compensation must be “ascertained by a jury unless waived.”

The courts recognize that takings extend beyond the physical seizure of property.  Takings also occur when government regulations restrict the use or alter the value of property.  Yet such regulatory takings have become increasingly common as federal agencies turn a blind eye to the Constitution.

Now the Obama administration has announced a diversity policy that constitutes regulatory taking on an unprecedented scale.  With HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, the administration plans to fund the construction of low-income housing within middle-class neighborhoods across the country.  This placement of subsidized housing projects within affluent neighborhoods constitutes a taking, because the property values and usefulness of existing homes will be reduced and curtailed.

The damage will include but not be limited to financial loss.  HUD’s rule change undermines the fundamental right of homeowners to live in a safe, quiet, well-maintained neighborhood.

It is hard to underestimate the insidiousness of HUD’s unconstitutional expansion of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  The new initiative employs a taxpayer’s own money to fund the reduction of his property values and to strip him of his rights as a homeowner.  And it does so in order to provide subsidized or no-cost housing to welfare clients of the state who in many cases have never worked. 

Once HUD’s low-income housing has been built, suburban families will find their crime rates increasing – not just the number of burglaries and thefts, but drug sales, gang activity, and murders as well.  Every survey of crime statistics has revealed the same fact: criminal activity, and violent activity in particular, occurs at a much higher rates in proximity to public housing.

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