IRVINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey joined Irvington Township officials on Nov. 16 to support the municipality’s right to use eminent domain to save blighted communities that have been distressed by the foreclosure crisis.

The township is proposing to use its power of eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages – not homes – and renegotiate a new mortgage that reflects the depressed values of homes. Homeowners will not lose their homes under this plan.

Irvington will be the second municipality in the country to adopt this strategy. The City of Richmond, Calif. adopted it earlier this year.

“For years New Jerseyans living in low income communities of color were targeted by banks peddling sub-prime mortgages, resulting in a foreclosure crisis in our state,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU-NJ. “Irvington, and every municipality in New Jersey, has a legal right to do everything in its power to dig its residents out of this crisis, including using the power of eminent domain to protect the public good and to seize toxic mortgages that brought our state and nation into this crisis in the first place.”

Photo courtesy of Mario C. Russell.

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