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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American…
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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

by Matthew Desmond

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (134)  Piratical (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I KNOW I said this about the last book I finished, but EVERYONE should read this book. It's a sad, eye opener to a reality that I personally had never thought much about before. The housing system in our country is so broken, and it's our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issue so we can figure out ways to change it. As Matthew Desmond says in the epilogue, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are our inalienable rights. Having a stable place to call home is a necessary component to achieving any and all of those things. ( )
1 vote Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
This is a biography from the author's point of view of tenant and landlord life in inner city Milwaukee. He follows eight families as they go through the eviction process and try to get back on their feet. He also follows a few landlords who are responsible for those evictions. In the book he sets to proove that poverty stricken people - especially women and children - have an almost impossible time finding affordable housing that isn't in crime infested neighborhoods. Even when they do find housing it is often without running water, or broken windows, or without appliances. He shows that the cycle of poverty is hard to break and how quickly things can get out of control.



I really liked this book. My husband and I are landlords, and we own 6 rental properties and have a total of 13 units. We have prided ourselves in buying these houses from slum lords (for the most part - not all) and turning them into nice places for people to live. When something breaks, we fix it immediately. We have hard and fast rules, but we expect respect from our tenants. In the four years we have been landlords, we have learned a lot of hard lessons, but now feel like we know what we are doing.



I was sickened by both sides of the stories in this book. The tenants - while poor and desolate - also were most times drug addicts or felons. Almost each story had a case where the tenant had made bad choices in their lives and they were paying for them. Hard. On the other hand - the two landlords they followed were definitely slum lords. And they weren't ashamed of it. The conditions that these folks had to live in for $500-$600 a month was disgusting. Nothing ever got fixed - especially if the renter was behind on their rent. The landlords were painted that getting rent was their only priority - not making nice places for people to live.



Respect begets respect. If the landlords don't respect the tenants, the tenants don't respect the property. And round and round it goes. Sure - we are not talking about Harvard graduates in these apartments, but everyone deserves a nice place to live. If people are helped back on their feet and given a chance to "make good", then things would turn around for both sides of this story. But neither side is interested. The renters want something for nothing and the landlords want their money for nothing. It is a crazy cycle.



Mat and I got into this business because we wanted to give people a nice place to live. We wanted to rid our home town of slum lords and encourage good people to move into these neighborhoods. In the case of this book - I don't see anything but a broken cycle that just makes you want to tear your hair out. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
This is not a fun read, but it's an important one.

Desmond's investigations into the housing situation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the first decade of the 21st century exposes the systematic abuses in a housing market biased in every way against low-income renters. From obscene profit levels taken by landlords to one-sided court proceedings to protective systems that increase rather than decreasing hardship among the population they are designed to serve, the story is thought-provoking, brutal, and depressing.

Desmond keeps his focus tightly on two groups of people -- the very poorest of the poor, many of whom spend upwards of 80% of their income to obtain substandard lodging, and on two landlords with large investments in inner-city rental properties. He also looks at the ways in which the struggle to keep a roof over one's head impacts social relations, and clarifies the incredible disruption caused by eviction actions.

No one comes out of this war zone unblemished. Certainly not the reader.

His recomendations to ameliorate the situation may or may not be practical, but they assign an entirely new meaning to the term "housing crisis". ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Dec 14, 2018 |
Matthew Desmond's EVICTED is a tour de force, shining a light on an overlooked, under-researched phenomenon: eviction. It's an area where rich and poor intersect, and Desmond spent years embedded in Milwaukee, with several different renters and one pair of landlords, examining the causes and effects of eviction on tenants. Eviction has exploded in recent years as housing costs have risen and wages have failed to keep up (stagnating or even falling); families are routinely spending well over the recommended 30% of income on rent, and that is for substandard housing with broken plumbing, broken windows, and generally shoddy upkeep. The author points out in his epilogue that "all this suffering is shameful and unnecessary...powerful solutions are within our collective reach"; he suggests legal aid to the poor (tenants are more likely to win cases against landlords if they are represented by a lawyer) and significantly expanding programs like the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Quotes/Notes

Families have watched their incomes stagnate, or even fall, while their housing costs have soared...the majority of poor renting families in America spend over half their income on housing, and at least one in four dedicates over 70% to paying rent and keeping the lights on. Millions of Americans are evicted every year because they can't make rent. (4)

When city or state officials pressured landlords - by ordering them to hire an outside security firm or by having a building inspector scrutinize their property - landlords often passed the pressure on to their tenants. (45)

Since 1997, welfare stipends in Milwaukee and almost everywhere else have not budged, even as housing costs have soared. For years, politicians have known that families could not survive on welfare alone. (58)

Most poor people in America...did not live in public housing or apartments subsidized by vouchers. Three in four families who qualified for assistance received nothing. (59)

Poor families were often compelled to accept substandard housing in the harried aftermath of eviction....Eviction had a way of causing not one move but two: a forced move into degrading and sometimes dangerous housing and an intentional move out of it. (69)

...rent in some of the worst neighborhoods was not drastically cheaper than rent in much better areas....Landlords at the bottom of the market generally did not lower rents to meet demand....Tenants able to pay their rent in full each month could take advantage of legal protections designed to keep their housing safe and decent...But when tenants fell behind, these protections dissolved. (74-75)

CCAP = Consolidated Court Automation Programs (87)

Screening practices that banned criminality and poverty in the same stroke drew poor families shoulder to shoulder with drug dealers, sex offenders, and other lawbreakers in places with lenient requirements. (89)

Women from black neighborhoods made up 9 percent of Milwaukee's population and 30 percent of its evicted tenants... 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. (98)

Homelessness Prevention Program - Community Advocates - Emergency Assistance (112)

...under conditions of scarcity people prioritize the now and lose sight of the future, often at great cost.
How the Other Half Lives (115)

In the vast majority of cases (83 percent), landlords who received a nuisance citation for domestic violence [the third most common "nuisance activity"] responded either by evicting the tenants or by threatening to evict them for future police calls. (191)

[Milwaukee's chief of police] failed to realize, or failed to reveal, that his department's own rules presented battered women with a devil's bargain: keep quiet and face abuse or call the police and face eviction. (192)

SSI's "resource limit"....a clear disincentive to save. (217)

If [she] spent her money unwisely, it was not because her benefits left her with so much but because they left her with so little. (219)
--> See also Hand to Mouth, Linda Tirado

Job loss could lead to eviction, but the reverse was also true. (227)

Fair Housing Act 1968 - Families with children not considered a protected class. HUD study in 1980 found only 1 in 4 rental units available to families without restrictions. 1988 Congress outlawed housing discrimination but practice is still widespread...Families with children turned away in as many as 7 in 10 housing searches. (230-231)

Over three centuries of systematic dispossession from the land created a semipermanent black rental class and an artificially high demand for inner-city apartments. (slavery, Jim Crow used to block GI mortgages, etc., 251)

1968 Civil Rights Act
But equal treatment in an unequal society could still foster inequality. (252)

Epilogue:

America is supposed to be a place where you can better yourself, your family, your community. But this is only possible if you have a stable home....When people have a place to live, they become better parents, workers, and citizens. (294-295)

Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart. (300)

Public initiatives that provide low-income families with decent housing they can afford are among the most meaningful and effective anti-poverty programs in America. (302)

Today, over 1 in 5 of all renting families in this country spends half its income on housing. America can and should work to make its cities livable again. (303)

Most federal housing subsidies benefit families with six-figure incomes. If we are going to spend the bulk of our public dollars on the affluent - at least when it comes to housing - we should own up to that decision and stop repeating the politicians' canard about one of the richest countries on the planet being unable to afford doing more. If poverty persists in America, it is not for lack of resources. (312) ( )
  JennyArch | Nov 5, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Desmondprimary authorall editionscalculated
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I wish the rent
was heaven sent.
 Langston Hughes,
 "Little Lyric (Of Great Importance)"
Dedication
For Michelle, who's been down the line
First words
Jori and his cousin were cutting up, tossing snowballs at passing cars.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

"[The author] 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 dollars 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 stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind. The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. 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 more than 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"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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