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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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6358815,256 (4.45)1 / 235

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Incredibly depressing. Worthy of all the praise. I don't have much else to add to what others have said, but it's forever changed the way I look at my hometown. ( )
  cattylj | Apr 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Matthew Desmond took a deep dive into poverty and housing. He published the story of what he saw in Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. The book follows several people in deep poverty living and being evicted from terrible housing in Milwaukee. Mr. Desmond lived among them in 2008 and 2009. He split his time between the poor, white College Mobile Home Park full of the white poor on one side of town and a rooming house on the poor black side of town.

The housing problems did not appear to discriminate based on race. However, Mr. Desmond found that the vast majority of evictions were against black women. Regardless, the problem was a lack of money. Most of the subjects were scrapping by without any meaningful work or on public assistance. That assistance paid for the rent, but left little remaining after rent. They pay a crushing share of their income for rent. The book's subjects were paying 75%+ of their income for rent. That left little for food, health care, clothing, furniture, and transportation.

Part of book's story is that evictions are much more common than previously thought. More than one in eight Milwaukee renters faced a forced move in the course of three years. A forced move includes a larger selection of reasons beyond formal evictions, including strong arm tactics, building condemnation, and paying unwanted tenants to leave. In Milwaukee, 16 families lose their homes each day: 16,000 people being forced out of 6,000 housing units every year.

Mr. Desmond also included the two landlords in the book. They were doing better financially than their tenants, but they were not fat cats rolling in cash. There is money to be made from renting to the poor. But it also means an uneven flow of cash when rent goes unpaid, properties are damaged, and the court fees for getting an eviction. The biggest financial windfall for the landlord was when one of the buildings caught on fire. She pocketed the insurance money and bulldozed the charred remains.

The landlord are overlooking the convictions and evictions to rent to tenants that would be excluded from other mainstream housing. In exchange, the tenants overlook the poor housing conditions.

There are no easy answers in the book. In the epilogue, Mr Desmond offers some direction. It requires money. More government assistance for the poor to get housing.

The book is compelling. While not necessarily enjoyable to read, it is well written and easy to digest, as distasteful as it may be. The book has won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

Publishers occasionally send me books in exchange for a review. That was the case the here. ( )
  dougcornelius | Apr 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. Heartbreaking book from Harvard sociologist and Mac Genius award winner changes the way we should view poverty in America. It is a brutal look at the business of poverty in Milwaukee's inner city. It is truly an important book in these tumultuous times our country is facing. It reads like a novel. It is powerful, depressing but life-changing. This important book should be required reading. ( )
  januthomas | Apr 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I started reading this book expecting a sociological overview of the housing problem, illustrated with some anecdotes. I found myself immersed in the gritty reality of the low-income sector of the city (which is Milwaukee but probably could be any middle American city), traveling along with the author, experiencing the daily struggle to find adequate and decent housing. It was interesting but started to grow tiring as problem after problem and crisis after crisis beset the cast of characters -- and this was not just a story, but real lives of real people. Author and professor Matthew Desmond has done a brilliant job of communicating the extent of the problems that the lowest tier of our society faces. By actually living there and getting deeply involved in the subject, rather than keeping a distant professorial view, he brings home to us this reality that most of us are unaware of. He also skillfully interweaves commentary and analysis of why the cards are stacked against the people that he is spending time with. At the end of the book he discusses very honestly how he conducted the research, maintaining his objective viewpoint but also getting into a very personal connection with the people and the community. An excellent book that every American should read -- especially those who look down on the poor people who are relegated by the society to the bleak situation portrayed here. ( )
  RickLA | Apr 10, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Do you think that people that get evicted from rental properties are all dead beats? I thought that until I read this book. Desmond lived in some of Milwaukee's worst housing to experience the housing crisis that is the everyday reality of many Americans. Through the stories he recounts of the people he meets in the inner city apartments and trailer parks we learn just how stacked the system is against renters, who spend the majority of their income to stay off the streets. This is book is depressing, but if you have housing you can afford, you should read it. If you are a landlord, you should definitely read it! If you don't understand how fundamental stable and decent housing is to addressing the inequality in our society, read it. ( )
  mojomomma | Apr 10, 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, "(A) Little Lyric (of Great Importance)"
For Michelle, who's been down the line
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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.
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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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