RICHMOND, Calif. – In a run-down shopping center in the heart of this San Francisco Bay Area community, about a half dozen activists are plotting to turn the housing market on its head.
Their aim: stem home mortgage foreclosures and preserve neighborhoods in a city hit hard by the housing bust. But, this time, the activists have some unusual allies.
They have enlisted officials from the city of Richmond and beyond. They’re working alongside a group of investors who stand to make a profit if the plan works. And they’re advocating government seizures.
Wait - seizing private property? Profiting from neighborhood preservation? Is this the Bizarro World? Well, sort of. But the way the activists see it, they’ve hit upon an idea that’s so counterintuitive, it just might work.
That idea involves eminent domain, the power of government to take private property for public purposes.