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 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 incomes 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.
©2016 Matthew Desmond (P)2016 Random House Audio
"A groundbreaking work.... Desmond delivers a gripping, novelistic narrative.... This stunning, remarkable book - a scholar's 21st-century How the Other Half Lives - demands a wide audience." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Gripping storytelling and meticulous research undergird this outstanding ethnographic study.... Desmond identifies affordable housing as a leading social justice issue of our time and offers concrete solutions to the crisis." (Publishers Weekly)
"Evicted is astonishing - a masterpiece of writing and research that fills a tremendous gap in our understanding of poverty. Taking us into some of America's poorest neighborhoods, Desmond illustrates how eviction leads to a cascade of events, often triggered by something as simple as a child throwing a snowball at a car, that can trap families in a cycle of poverty for years. Beautiful, harrowing, and deeply human, Evicted is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice in this country. I loved it." (Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)
It was very interesting.
A reality check for those of us who have never faced eviction.
As a former property manager I feel some guilt for pursing evictions so forcefully over the years. In the event I'm in that position again I know I'll remember to show compassion and remember the awful outcomes referenced in this book of the homeless.
We're all neighbors in this life!
mom/chief bug hunter
Powerful. Depressing. Eye-opening
The epilogue was great to hear what really happened to the author in order to gain the depth of research he obviously reached to publish such an amazing, comprehensive, empathetic story.
This is not fiction - it's real life.
After you read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Outstanding real-life stories of the ongoing evictions of Americans happening every day across our country.
Having a roof over your head is central to one's health and happiness, yet millions are evicted every year, causing an ongoing spiral of poverty, poor health, and related unhappiness and mental health. After reading this book, I agree with the amazing research results of Matthew Desmond and others; we need to start a national dialog on homes for all Americans, since a stable home is central to our founding father's wish for all Americans to the "unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness"... building more affordable housing, increasing the minimum wage, or hiring attorneys to represent tenants in eviction court are just some of the ways we can change the ongoing evictions in our country.
Can't recommend this book highly enough.
Professional librarian type, amateur historian.
I listened to this over the period of 3 days. It was a great listen if general American misery makes for a good listen.There are a lot of people and lots of storylines mentioned so you can forget who is who with similar sounding names, but it not too confusing.
The strength of the audiobook are the stories of the difficult to house, people who get behind on rent and two different landlords. The author seems to be very fair in his portrayal of the landlords who are the two main landlord subjects and a bit less so regarding other landlords who come up in the book. As a landlady myself, I appreciate that.
I wish he spent a serious chapter exploring alternatives to the problems presented. This makes me wonder if the publisher suggested throwing in the housing alternatives because compared to the rest of the book this was glaringly weak. Explore the voucher program and other alternatives and the real world problems of why the renters in this book could still have troubles.
I'm not sure what sane non-slumlord landlord would rent to the subjects looking for housing. They have income problems and for some lacking in 'home training'. I was hoping the author's solutions would be something that would help the people in the book. But as landlords, even Section 8 (housing voucher) landlords, get savvy about screening, the people in his book are going to be screwed.
It's a heartbreaking well written book that takes you face-to-face with the private housing market.- it's winners and losers. While some of the stories are profoundly sad, he ends the book with a note of hope. Poverty has not removed their deep humanity. If we develop the political will we can reverse this unjust social design.
It's a must read for anyone who thinks they understand poverty, it's causes, it's victims and it's perpetrators.
What I liked the best about Evicted was how well the author explained these hopeless situations that people living in poverty find themselves in and can't seem to dig their way out of to improve their living situations.
What I liked least about Evicted was that it took a little time to really get into this book. The beginning was a little slow for me.
I would recommend Evicted to friends who are interested in social issues and sociology because this book does offer a unique insight to a social situation that you might not really understand unless you have experienced it first hand.
"Evicted" made me want to cry, laugh, shake my head in pity and cheer all at the same time. In short, it has me feeling "some kinda way"! I could have written many parts of this book based on my own experiences growing up in a household with a couple of "ghetto landlords" of inherited homes, living in the home of a ghetto landlord ourselves, becoming a ghetto landlord and having to evict some of these same people and from the stories of kinfolk to this very day.
I must say that the book left me inspired at the possibilities that hope brings when the burden of poverty is not so heavy. The need for QUALITY affordable housing is as important today as it's ever been! Working in the field where we seek to develop such housing in Michigan specifically, I am thrilled to witness when it works through this authors words!
The narrator was a good choice in my opinion!
Thank you for this work! It should be required reading for all social workers, current and aspiring, government officials and anyone interested in the alleviation of poverty in this country. That said, it should also be required reading for those who don't think that we have a problem, particularly around this idea of equity!
In this outstanding and eye-opening ethnography, Matthew Desmond provided the public with an incredibly interesting look at inequality through the lens of housing accommodations for the poorest and most marginalized citizens in America. Despite studying inequality at length and reading as many books on inequality that I can get my hands on, this book really stood out because it added a level of complexity to my understanding of how inequality is maintained.
The writing was so exceptional, it was easy to become engrossed in the story of each person that I forgot that I was reading what amounts to a sociology book on human rights. The author did an excellent job of bringing to life the problems faced by both tenants and landlords in the slums of America.
In the epilogue he really tied everything together by both brining the reader back into the lives of many of the people discussed in the book and clearly connecting the dots between the stability provided by having a roof over one's head and how that stability is the only path to becoming a productive citizen. He thoughtfully questioned how high eviction rates might destabilize whole communities and contribute to crime. Desmond argued eloquently and convincingly that programs aimed at helping the poor find stable homes would be far more effective in creating productive citizens than policies aimed at punishing. In fact, putting money toward housing would be less expensive than what we pay to help these same citizens once they are fully homeless. His argument on this point was particularly salient. Similarly, it might be cheaper and more effective to help treat those with addiction than to punish them. Treatment over incarceration is something I have studied at length, which made me particularly happy to read his arguments.
Some of the questions Desmond tackles in this book are:
Who is eligible for housing assistance?
Who is not?
What are the results of these policies?
How do they affect the lives of poor and marginalized families who might have had a chance of living in the world in what would be considered a legitimate way?
How have these policies created more hurdles for those who already have such a steep climb to live a life of even the tiniest privilege?
Scott's story about losing his nursing job due to addiction, and the subsequent evictions and struggles he went through really resonated with me. I can't explain why it got to me so much, except that I know people struggling with addiction and it is always compelling to hear the story behind the addiction.
He did a great job bringing voices and personality to each character that appeared, really bringing everyone to life. When I listen to an audiobook, I really pay attention to how the reader brings inflection and tone to the narration, and Dion did a good job here. I found his voice really comfortable to listen to as well, which is important to me.
This book is an insightful look inside the world of poverty and housing, bringing to light a unique view on just why it is so expensive to be poor. It shows how hard it can be to break the cycle of poverty.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the way the author chose to tell it - from the point of view of various people on both sides of the tracks, so to speak. It was not just a dry read of facts, but a story. Several stories. This was a worthwhile read, even if it was a bleak and depressing story.
Book 1 reads like an urban novel as we follow the lives of the landlords and tenants through their daily drama. It's sad and funny at the same time. If you watch Shameless on Showtime, you'll relate.
Book 2 explains the laws and policies that make housing so difficult for the poor and these lessons are intertwined throughout the story.
Book 3 is the author offering his opinions on housing and the reasons and methods he used to write the book.
It all makes for a fascinating read that is as entertaining as it is educational.
I especially respect how the author refrained from being judgmental towards the landlords and the tenants. They both have their challenges.
The book was expertly narrated. It was especially great when he changed voices to mimic how the character probably sounded. That's what makes it better to listen to than to read.
One of my new favorite books!
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