Matt Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. Pick it up if you have the chance.
It tells the story of eight families and two landlords in Milwaukee and how evictions have a devastating impact on all aspects of life, especially on women and children. This under-reported problem is unique to the U.S., Desmond says, and is perpetuated by greed and a broken set of systems.
Here’s a paragraph from the Amazon synopsis:
“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.”
There are three specifics that stand out in reading this book: The author walked-the-talk to do the necessary research and fieldwork, the story is told in a human and nonjudgmental way but doesn’t hide anything and the author offers several credible solutions.
This is a heart-wrenching book and some of the stories, details and decisions people make will leave an impact. It also had me think that I’d make the same choices had I been in their shoes.
It also made me revisit just how lucky I was to have a steady home growing up.