The 'tough to define' word governments use to justify 'seizing property' and displacing residents

The 'tough to define' word governments use to justify 'seizing property' and displacing residents
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 30: Views of the Gowanus neighborhood, where dozens of large construction projects along the Gowanus Canal are rapidly changing the once industrial and working class neighborhood into luxury living area for wealthy New Yorkers, November 30, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The word "blight" has often been used in connection with poor, disadvantaged neighborhoods with a lot of abandoned buildings, from Baltimore to Detroit to Gary, Indiana. Defenders of gentrification have argued that developers are "revitalizing" neighborhoods that were once "blighted," while critics of gentrification view it as a recipe for displacement.

The Wall Street Journal tackles the subject of "blight" in a video posted on March 10, stressing that politicians and developers can use the word to justify tearing down buildings and seizing property.

"Blight is a word with more than just a negative connotation," the Journal explains. "It has the power to unlock billions of dollars for real estate development by opening the door for governments to seize private property for public use…. But these redevelopment projects don’t hinge on the same interpretation of blight, just the word."

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The word "blight," according to the Journal, is "so tough to define."

"Blight has been blamed for increasing crime, drug use and unsanitary conditions in neighborhoods across the country," according to the Journal. "But the standard isn’t the same across every legal code."

In Columbus, Kansas, for example, weeds that are more than one foot fall are "presumed to be blighting."

Anti-blight arguments, according to the Journal, aren’t necessarily used in connection with poor areas. The video points out that a major "redevelopment project”" around New York City’s Penn Station could displace quite a few businesses. Democratic Mayor Eric Adams has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project, which is not targeting a poor area; rents for commercial or residential property near Penn Station cost a fortune.

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"Once land is identified as blighted," WSJ's video observes, "the stage is set for eminent domain, giving the government the power to seize the property."

READ MORE:93 percent of zip codes in the top 100 US cities have become unaffordable for Black residents: report

Watch the video below or at this link.

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