Evicted Book Summary By Matthew Desmond

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Evicted is a powerful book that sheds light on the difficult and often heartbreaking struggles of individuals and families who are living in poverty in the United States.

It dives deep into Milwaukee's inner city, including the tenants and landlords living in this highly segregated area.

The book details the lives of these people and how they've been trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty because of greedy property owners who don't hesitate to kick them out of their homes.

Moreover, Evicted sheds light on how unfair housing policies have contributed to this heartbreaking situation.

With raw honesty and vivid detail, author Matt Desmond brings us closer to the world of those who are most vulnerable.

Evicted Book

Book Name: Evicted (Poverty and Profit in the American City)

Author(s): Matthew Desmond

Rating: 3.9/5

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

Categories: Society & Culture

Author Bio

Matthew Desmond is the author of the book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

He is a Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and Co-Director of the Justice and Poverty Project.

His work around race and poverty has led to him receiving several awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2015.

Desmond's research focuses specifically on affordable housing and evictions are one main issue he has tackled in his work.

His other notable works include On the Fireline, which also delved into themes related to race and poverty.

With such a deep understanding of this subject matter, readers can be sure that with Evicted they will be getting an accurate and profound look into life for those affected by poverty.

How Evictions Have Become Increasingly Common In The United States: Examining The Causes And Consequences

United States

In the book Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, readers are provided with an in-depth look into a world that is rarely explored -a world of poverty and eviction.

Through vivid depictions of families from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Desmond paints a vivid and heartbreaking picture of life in poverty.

We get to see how evictions have become commonplace over the last two decades despite being rare during the Great Depression; why poor tenants pay more than 50 percent of their income on rent; and how minorities are disproportionately affected by evictions.

Despite these challenges, though, rental property owners also have their own footings in which they must navigate an unforgiving system in order to make a profit and provide housing for those in need.

Evicted provides us with an eye-opening glimpse into this little known world, one that will challenge our preconceptions about poverty and provide us with valuable lessons that can be applied to real life situations.

The Growing Challenge Of Evictions In The United States: Why Fighting For A Home Is Harder Than Ever

Evictions have become a painful reality plaguing America’s low-income communities.

From one city to the next, families are being thrown out of their homes at an alarming rate; in Milwaukee, over the course of three year’s one-eighth of all tenants faced eviction.

Census data likely underestimate the number of evictions, as some cases never make it to the housing court that handles landlord-tenant disputes.

But regardless of how you count them, evictions are an epidemic that affects millions every single day.

In New York City in 2012, nearly 80 eviction cases went through court each day while 1 in 9 renters in Cleveland and 1 in 14 renters in Chicago received an eviction summons during the same year.

It wasn’t always like this though; back during the 1930s and 1940s it was rare for landlords to evict tenants due to hardship even during The Great Depression, but now such occurrences have become a commonplace disaster for many low-income families across America.

The Rising Cost Of Rent And America’S Job Crisis Fuel Unexpected Evictions

The number of families facing eviction is on the rise, due in large part to increased unemployment, low wages and high rents.

Studies conducted by Harvard University researchers highlighted this as they showed that between 2001 and 2014 rents had increased by seven percent while incomes fell nine percent.

A standard measure of comfortable living suggests that households should not spend more than thirty percent of their incomes on rent, however census data depict the reality for many lower income households; with over fifty percent spending more than recommended and more than a quarter paying seventy or more.

This is especially true of African-American families living in inner cities such as Milwaukee which has seen 56000 manufacturing jobs leave since 1979, leading 50 percent of working age black men being unemployed.

This along with welfare benefits barely covering the costs of living leaves these families with little wiggle room when unexpected expenses arise.

The Exploitation Of Low-Income Tenants: The Effects Of Unregulated Property Owners

Low-Income Tenants

Landlords who put profits ahead of safety end up preying on vulnerable tenants.

Sherrena Tarver is one such example, shown after a house she was renting tragically caught fire and it wasn’t clear if smoke detectors had been installed.

Her primary concern seemed to be that she wouldn’t be held accountable instead of the safety of her tenants.

She even considered whether or not she’d have to refund the rent for that month whilst the fire inspector reassured her she wouldn’t be liable for any money.

Similar examples can be seen with Tobin Charney too – a white man who owns 131 trailer homes in Milwaukee and makes $400,000 a year off them despite how tiny some are.

His tenants barely have enough money to feed themselves after paying substantial rents and there’s hardly any money being invested in repairs or maintenance either meaning they’re left without legal support and facing possible eviction.

These landlords are showing that their primary concern is always profits over safety which leaves vulnerable tenants exposed exploitaton without protection from those they feel they must trust the most.

The Inequalities Of The Housing Market: How Systemic Racism And Sexism Cause Evictions For Low-Income Women Of Color

Milwaukee is among the most segregated cities in the United States, and that distinction is reflected in its housing market.

African Americans are disproportionately subjected to exploitation, with more than three-quarters of those summoned to court being black.

This color line discrepancy becomes even clearer when considering available housing options for black households; desirable properties are only ever shown to white people.

As a result, it’s not surprising that low-income residents fear ending up on the other side of this divide – in poorer areas with bad housing conditions.

The impact on black women is even greater: though they make up merely nine percent of Milwaukee’s population, close to one-third of evictions involve them – nearly double the rate for Hispanic women, and almost five times that of white women.

Gender inequality is undoubtedly part of the answer here since black women are paid less than men for doing the same job.

But single parenthood can also be held responsible – landlords tend to avoid renting large enough apartments to cover their family’s needs because they won’t receive a return on their investment.

In other words, it’s hard enough being a mother, but much harder when you don’t have a roof over your head.

The Fair Housing Act was put in place almost half a century ago as an effort to end discrimination against certain racial or ethnic groups.

However, it doesn’t provide protection for single mothers and their children who remains extremely vulnerable due to their lack of legal representation (only 10 percent of tenants hire an attorney).

And without showing up at court 70 percent of the time, there’s not much hope left for these vulnerable families..

The High Mental And Financial Costs Of Evictions In Low-Income Communities

Evictions place a tremendous amount of stress on families, often leading to job loss and health problems.

It is also a self-perpetuating form of poverty, trapping families in a cycle they can’t escape from.

Evidence shows that evictions can lead to depression and even suicide, while causing more people to miss important letters and benefit checks that are sent to the wrong address.

In addition to the mental toll it takes on an individual, eviction is hugely destabilizing for the family unit.

Even if you have enough money saved up, the cost of storage or buying new stuff after an eviction can be exorbitant.

Furthermore, being evicted means having to look for new housing on top of all that added stress – which leads to a greater risk of homelessness as well as difficulty in getting a stable job because employers realize your lack of stability.

The results are devastating; studies show that after an eviction there’s 20 percent rise in hardships such as hunger and illness due to their instability, not speaking about increased chances of winding up in dangerous neighborhoods with drugs and crime lurking everywhere.

Making Home A Universal Right: The Need For An Expanded Housing Voucher Program

Housing Voucher Program

It is generally accepted that having a stable home is a basic human right.

A true “home”, however, entails not just shelter but also warmth, safety, and love – things that aren’t feasible without stability and community ties.

When these are broken up by homelessness or eviction, kids lose their friends and support systems and suffer from the distress of their parents; their psychological development can be fundamentally stunted.

As such, if the United States wishes to sustain a sense of belonging for its citizens and improve living conditions for all across the nation, it needs to consider how it can provide housing to everyone in need.

One practical way could be expanding the existing housing voucher program.

Through this system, people would be able to pay 30% of their incomes as rent while vouchers cover the rest; this is already working successfully in other countries like Great Britain and Netherlands.

Critics worry of people being disinclined to work when given benefits; however multiple studies have shown no proof to this claim- thus making it an effective yet potential solution worth considering on behalf of our society.

Wrap Up

In Evicted, we got an in-depth examination of the heartbreaking consequences of evictions and how it affects individuals, families and whole communities.

We learned that this issue is part of a bigger systemic problem caused by poverty, discrimination and exploitation that the United States by and large fails to address.

The book’s ultimate message is clear: the only way to put an end to evictions is by implementing housing reforms, such as housing vouchers that would ensure everyone has access to stable, safe housing – something that should be a basic human right.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.