The government can take your home or any property of yours at a whim. This is not the same as the IRS taking your home because you owe them money; the government has the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions for public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.
This government right is called Eminent Domain.
How Does It Work?
You own or live in a house and there is going to be a new highway built or a further expansion of an already existing one to relieve the congestive traffic. In order to do this, the state needs to find room to expand the highway, and your home happens to be in the best location for said highway. The state decided expansion is necessary and seizes your property. They give you 100,000 dollars which they deemed as a "just" compensation, and you have no choice but to give up your property, but you can challenge whether the compensation is at fair market value. Federal, state, and local can take any private property by exercising Police Power (the ability to regulate and enforce order within their territory as stated through the Tenth Amendment). The fifth and fourteenth amendments also permit the government to exercise its power of eminent domain and requires "just compensation" for seized property. The end result is not very favorable, as it leaves you, the homeowner, without a home and less money than what your home was worth in the Real Estate Market.
Why Does It Matter?
Eminent Domain is a rather controversial topic. Many times, Eminent Domain is used to better the neighborhood with new public schools and highways. It betters neighborhoods but it forcibly removes people from their homes with barely any help from those who seized their property. There is also considerable controversy about what constitutes valid public use, and not all of it is bad. Many courts have allowed cities to clear/rebuild lower quality neighborhoods to beautify the town and raise market values, a process known as gentrification, and then they may even allow the previous owners to move into the new constructions. Many instances of gentrification have actually happened on Staten Island. Homes along Cedar Grove have been torn down because of Eminent Domain. There have also been cases of gentrification at the area around the Staten Island Ferry. They have kicked many residents out in order to build up the area and bring it to more of a middle class standard with new complexes such as an outlet shopping mall, the upcoming Ferris wheel, or new apartments.
Eminent Domain happens across the United States. Whether if it truly benefits communities or not is a topic of discussion but we here at Tom Crimmins Realty can always help you find a new home anytime. You can call us at (718)-370-3200 or visit us any time at our main office on at 304 Manor Road.