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Because We Can Doesnt Mean We Should and if We Do: Urban communities, Social and Economic Justice, and Local Economic-Development-Driven Eminent Domain Practices

March 2015

Kirk E. Harris


This article argues that the economic benefits of eminent domain are disproportionately valued in comparison to its potential community consequences. Economically driven eminent domain often displaces low-income working class households. The economic benefits of projects tend to bypass those most affected by it. Municipal governments must work to improve access to the economic opportunities made possible by eminent domain practices.

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Policy Implications

Existing economically driven eminent domain practices have the potential to improve access to their benefits. Thoughtfully designed Community Benefit Agreements are a possible solution. Policy that ensures displaced residents can share in the prosperity of public projects will foster equitable development.

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