Article from Rare by Bonnie Kristian.

Charlestown, Indiana, is a small town of about 8,000 people where the local government tried to force low-income families out of their homes by drowning them in petty fines so the land could be sold to build a fancy new development.

This textbook case of the banality of evil sounds like the basis of a plausible sequel to the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, but it is very much a real story. Scott Shackford explains at Reason:

Property owners were cited and fined hundreds of dollars for every individual violation. Unlike the usual practice in code enforcement, the owners were not given any grace period to correct the problems before the fines were levied: They were levied immediately and compounded daily until the problems were fixed. And even when the violations were fixed, the owners had to pay the fines. The only relief offered to them came if they agreed to sell their properties to the developer.

Once the developer bought and boarded up the homes, by contrast, the city refrained from citing it for code violations. Neighbors complained that the company’s properties were overgrown and full of garbage and weeds, creating a public health risk. But the law wasn’t being used to target public health risks; it was being used to target people who wouldn’t sell.

Read the entire article at Rare.