Hey Richmond, Remember the Constitution?

The city of Richmond, Indiana, wants to push property owners off of their land for code violations, but is refusing to tell them what those violations are.

Take action now: Tell the Richmond Common Council that property owners have the right to keep what they have worked so hard to own, and, if their properties violate the city code, the Constitution requires that they be told what is wrong with their properties and afforded a real opportunity to address concerns.

A number of property owners have received notice from the city’s Unsafe Building Commission (UBC), giving them 30 days to address unspecified code violations, or face demolition, and pay for it. But the Commission has failed to inform property owners of what violations actually exist and what steps they must take to bring their properties up to code.

Property owners suspect that the city plans to engage in a “one-two punch” land grab – that is, the city will attempt to purchase properties using federal “Hardest Hit Funds” through the Blight Elimination Program. If property owners refuse to sell, the city will designate properties as “unsafe” and steamroll them through the UBC, which does not respect due process.

Lyle Coffman, a master plumber and expert handyman, received notification that his home could be demolished if it were not “brought up to code.” When ordered to appear before the city’s Unsafe Building Commission, he asked the UBC how to bring his property up to code and was unhelpfully told to “read the code.” Lyle could easily repair his own home if only he knew what would satisfy the Commission.

In April, local residents formed Righting Richmond, an organization that is working to guarantee the property rights of the people of Richmond. The Institute for Justice is working in collaboration with Righting Richmond. Righting Richmond will press the city to put a hearing body and appeals process into place that legitimately investigates and weighs both the property owner’s rights and the city’s claims.