In place of her “tiny slip of a bungalow” - and two dozen other weathered, working-class beachfront homes - city officials want private developers to build upscale townhouses.
Is this the work of a cruel government? Or the best hope for resurrecting an ocean resort town that is finally showing signs of reviving after decades of hard times?
Echoes of the debate are happening across the country, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision brought new attention to governments' ability to seize property through the tool of eminent domain. Some 40 states are re-examining their laws - with action in Congress, too - after the court's unpopular ruling.
“We thought this was going to be our home forever,” said DeFaria, sitting in a kitchen cozy with photos of children and grandchildren, quotes from the Bible and a game of Scrabble that she plays against herself. “Now they want to take it away. It's unfair, it's criminal, it's unconstitutional.”
Not according to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling last June that was greeted with widespread criticism, the court found that New London, Conn., had the authority to take homes for a private development project.
The Constitution says governments cannot take private property for public use without “just compensation.” Governments have traditionally used eminent domain to build public projects such as roads, reservoirs and parks. But for decades, the court has been expanding the definition of public use, allowing cities to employ eminent domain to eliminate blight.