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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American…

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

by Matthew Desmond

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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Booklist, 2016
  asidebottom428 | Jun 27, 2017 |
Excellent book. I'm very glad that Matthew Desmond wrote it. It must have been a struggle to live with this dysfunctional system for so long. I was glad for his explanation of how he did the research. Really well done, with great notes. This book explores the lives of several people in Milwaukee, both landlords and tenants. It was maddening and heartbreaking. I had to read it just bits at a time. I would get depressed and frustrated and need to read something else. Which just points up the hardship these people live with in that they cannot get away from it. This is an understudied area of poverty and really needs addressing. Mr Desmond does have some interesting ideas on how to mitigate the problems. An important book, a must read in my estimation. ( )
  njcur | Jun 26, 2017 |
This remarkable and heartbreaking book, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction, details the process of eviction over two years in Milwaukee. Professor Desmond has not only written a wonderful ethnographic study of poverty, he has also emphasized this point: the inner city exists in poverty in part because landlords and others find many ways to extract case from their poor clients. In several of the cases detailed in this book, renters give up 65 to 75% of their monthly income just to maintain a home. And that home, which is often a rat hole, costs virtually the same as a nice apartment in a better neighborhood.

Desmond shows how the legal process of eviction often leads to hunger, depression, a lost year or two of schooling, internal migration, and hopelessness. At the same time, even compassionate landlords have to battle with the failure of some renters to make responsible choices. Desmond does show, however, that many poor inner city residents are more willing to help others than inhabitants of wealthier neighborhoods.

An important and timely book which offers few solutions while illuminating a vexing problem. It is clearly worth all the high praise it has received. ( )
  barlow304 | Jun 26, 2017 |
With the "vividness of a novel," this nonfiction book explores the interconnectedness of the rental market and poverty. Desmond, currently a Harvard sociologist but at the time covered by this book a graduate student, lived among the poor in Milwaukee and came to know tenants and landlords alike. The book focuses on both the northern part of Milwaukee, the black ghetto and on the tenants, owner and manager of a deteriorating trailer park primarily occupied by poor white people.

The book opens with Arleen's 13 year old son Jori throwing a snowball at a passing car. The enraged driver chases Jori to his house and breaks down the door. This leads to an eviction for Arleen, Jori, and 5 year old Jafaris, who has asthma. The sheriff shows up, and Arleen has a choice: have her things placed at the curb, or pay $350 plus a monthly fee to redeem her stored goods. Her things are put on the curb.

We follow Arleen's months-long struggles to find a place to live. In Milwaukee the median rent for a 2 bedroom apartment was $600--the cheapest 10% rent for less than $480, and the most expensive 10% rent for above $750. Arleen ultimately has to pay $550 per month--88% of her monthly income. Along the way, we learn about the travails of other poor people in north Milwaukee, including Lamar, whose legs were amputated, and his two sons, Trisha who is mentally ill and illiterate, Kamala who loses her infant in an apartment fire, and Doreen and her children and grandchildren squeezed into a tiny apartment and constantly behind on the rent. We also get to know Sherrena, the landlord for all these people and more.

The trailer park is one which leases the land, not the trailers. What usually happened was that there would be a filthy ramshackle trailer on the premises (left by a former tenant) which the landlord would offer "free" to a potential tenant who would only have to pay rent for the land. This meant that the landlord would have no maintenance expenses for the premises. Among the tenants we meet here are Heroin Susie, Pam, a crackhead with 4 children and one on the way, Scott, a former nurse who is now a heroin addict, and Larraine, a disabled woman whose family refuses or is unable to help her and who when evicted just moves in with another tenant in the trailer park.

Failure to pay the rent is not the only reason for eviction. Arleen lost an apartment when a housing inspector showed up and declared it unfit for human habitation (no water). Another time she was threatened with eviction because an ambulance was called when her son had a major asthma attack. Apparently in Milwaukee there is something called a "nuisance activity report" which the police give landlords if police or ambulances are called too often to a rental unit. The landlord is required to remedy "the nuisance", and usually the only acceptable remedy is eviction. This leads to some female tenants being reluctant to call the police in cases of domestic abuse.

I could go on and on. This reads like a novel, a very gritty and disturbing novel. It certainly opened my eyes and broke my heart.

Highly recommended.

4 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | May 25, 2017 |
If you want to get a more realistic picture of what it is like to be poor and evicted, red this book. The author is a sociologist/ethnographer and basically lived in the midst of his subjects, the poorest of the poor in Milwaukie. This book makes a very good case for the need to change our approach t the poor and housing. It's easy to blame landlords for the terrible conditions endured by poor renters and to blame them for being mean enough to evict renters who have nowhere to go, but to some extent they are also caught within a system that is impossible. We as a country do need to do more to solve our poverty problems and although the author is best at identifying the problems and telling the heartwarming stories he also suggests what, to me, seems like some workable solutions, such as universal vouchers (coupled with some amount of rent control). ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Desmondprimary authorall editionscalculated
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I wish the rent
was heaven sent.
 Langston Hughes,
 "Little Lyric (Of Great Importance)"
For Michelle, who's been down the line
First words
Jori and his cousin were cutting up, tossing snowballs at passing cars.
If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up.  Poor black women were locked out.
No one thought the poor more undeserving than the poor themselves.
A community that saw so clearly it's own pain had a difficult time also sensing its potential.
What the chief failed to realize, or failed to reveal, was that his department's own rules presented battered women with the devil's bargain: keep quiet and face abuse or call the police and face eviction.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553447432, Hardcover)

From Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stick up after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fate of these families is in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former school teacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs the worst trailer park in the fourth poorest city in the country. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending over half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation, while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:44:44 -0400)

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