The Victims Of Kelo
According to the data, those who live under the threat of eminent domain consistently live on significantly fewer earnings, with a median income of less than $19,000, compared to more than $23,000 in nearby neighborhoods. Twenty-five percent live at or below poverty, compared to only 16 percent in surrounding communities.
Those under eminent domain’s threat have completed less education and are more likely to be racial or ethnic minorities â€” some 58 percent of the population in threatened areas, compared to only 45 percent outside of project areas. All of these results were “statistically significant,” meaning the outcomes weren’t merely the result of chance; they can be considered representative of the overall population studied, that is, residents targeted by eminent domain.
This analysis â€” consisting of 184 neighborhoods ranging from small towns to large cities across the nation â€” vindicates the dire warnings of Justices O’Connor and Thomas. Although the data do not show that local officials and developers target specific areas because residents are lower-income, minority or less-educated, the fact remains that the awesome power of eminent domain is disproportionately trained on them. As Justice O’Connor wrote, “The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”
And yet here we have it.