"My name is Susette Kelo and I used to live in New London, Connecticut. I am the Kelo in Kelo v. City of New London - the infamous U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that private property, including my home, could be taken by another private party who promises to create more jobs and taxes with the land.
"I would like to tell you a little more of my story so you can hopefully see why the law needs to be changed.
"In 1997, I searched all over for a house and finally found this perfect little Victorian cottage with beautiful views of the water. I was working then as a paramedic and was overjoyed that I was able to find a beautiful little place I could afford on my salary. I spent every spare moment fixing it up and creating the kind of home I always dreamed of. I painted salmon pink, because that is my favorite color.
"In 1998, a real estate agent came by and made me an offer on the house on behalf of an unnamed buyer. I explained to her that I was not interested in selling, but she said that my home would be taken by eminent domain if I refused to sell. She told me stories of her relatives who had lost their homes to eminent domain. Her advice? Give up. The government always wins.
"So why did the City and the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) want to kick us out? To make way for a luxury hotel, up-scale condos, and other private developments that could bring in more taxes to the City and possibly create more jobs. The poor and middle class had to make way for the rich and politically connected. As quickly as the NLDC acquired homes in my neighborhood, they came in and demolished them, with no regard for the remaining residents who lived there, most of whom were elderly.
"My neighborhood was not blighted. It was a nice neighborhood where rope were close. We didn't want to leave.
"All of these was for nothing. After spending close to $80 million in taxpayer money, there has been no construction whatsoever and the neighborhood to this day remains a barren field, home to weeds and feral cats. And in 2009, Pfizer - the lynchpin of the plan - announced that it was closing its research and development headquarters and leaving New London for good, just as its tax breaks were about to expire.
"None of us asked for any of this. We were simply living our lives, working, taking care of our families and paying out taxes.
"This battle against eminent domain abuse may have started as a way for me to save my little pink cottage, but it has rightfully grown into something much larger - the fight to restore the American Dream and the sacredness and security of each one of our homes."
- Testimony of Susette Kelo, before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution & Civil Justice Hearing on the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2013, April 18, 2013