Author: Matthew Desmond
|Evicted (2016) is essentially a brief history of the causes and effects of poverty in America and how it has created a system in which millions of Americans are trapped in perpetual poverty. This is largely uncovered, which is what makes this book so important. It is a good reminder that it isn’t always a character flaw or laziness that leads to poverty, there are very real structural barriers that prevent people from escaping it.|
The people who live in the poorest neighborhoods in the United States (many of whom pay half or more of their income in rent) are evicted at alarming rates. The rate of eviction for these households is eight times that of middle-income neighborhoods and growing. In this age of big data, we know more than ever about the extent of poverty and inequality in America, yet we lack crucial information about the countless trials and tribulations endured by those stuck in it.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is Matthew Desmond’s epic work that takes a look at just how bad evictions are in America. Desmond uses the court records of a trailer park in Milwaukee to show that by following a few families and understanding the dynamics of poverty and eviction, you can gain a much better understanding of poverty than any government statistics could ever give you.
Desmond has been following the eviction process in Milwaukee for many years. He believes the process is flawed, but he doesn’t want to abolish it. Instead, he suggests that both landlords and tenants should be able to see their files, for instance, why the landlord wants them to move out. Other fixes include limiting how many times a landlord can evict someone in one year and preventing landlords from evicting for no reason at all. In this Evicted summary, you will learn some eye-opening lessons from the book.
Evicted Summary Key Points
Because of high rents and low salaries, evictions are now at record levels
Much of the increase can be attributed to a drop in wages, high housing costs, and the trend of renting rather than owning. Evictions are now at record levels. Eviction rates have been rising because of high rent, low salaries, and unemployment. In many cases, they are a matter of economic survival.
One cause is landlords who own multiple properties evicting tenants so that they can afford to live in the property themselves or sell it at a higher price. Another cause is despite being on the way out, landlords are being foreclosed on evicting tenants so that they don’t have to pay them. The Great Depression was not a good time for landlords. Eviction rates were high and most owners struggled to maintain cash flow, just like homeowners. This made them vulnerable to massive rent strikes.
According to historians David Freund and Michael Shaffer, communities in Ohio and California organized massive rent strikes against their landlords and even went so far as to evict them. Historians argue that the primary reasons for these mass evictions were high rent prices, low salaries, and unemployment.
But the Great Depression wasn’t the first time that people resisted having their landlords removed. Historians have also identified resistance efforts during the Civil War and Colonial America. In South Carolina in 1782, for example, the state assembly passed legislation preventing tenants from being removed. These actions did not stop landlords from threatening to end tenancies but they did show that there was resistance.
The challenges that evicted families are facing are unbearable
There are a lot of different kinds of evictions, but they all take a toll on families and their self-esteem. Some people become homeless as a result of an eviction notice, but that’s not the only thing that happens. They have to make decisions about what to take with them, and kids get placed in different schools if they’re moving.
The main stress for families who are evicted is whether or not they will be able to find a new place to live that’s affordable. It can be very difficult to find somewhere else that will take you and your family in. People use evictions as a reason not to rent their property out to you.
When you do live in a house that you own, you will have the time to plan on finding another home. You will not have to worry about kids that are about to go out on their own in the world. You’ll have more time to look around for something new. When you don’t own any property, you can be forced out of your home at a moment’s notice. The most stressful part is that it happens so fast which means it makes it hard to plan.
A housing voucher system should be implemented because housing is right of every civilian
When we talk about affordable housing, we’re talking about two things. Housing is a basic human need for habitation and shelter – a place to live. Home is the feeling and space around that place. It’s the sense of safety, belonging, and being the ability to learn and love. Maybe, though, we don’t need to build houses. Instead, we can give people a voucher that puts a roof over their heads.
We’re not just talking about giving them a roof over their heads, though. We’re talking about giving them a roof that belongs to them. A roof for which they don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage. A roof that they can’t be evicted from.
The concept of housing vouchers like this already exists. There are times when it is preferable to simply give people vouchers and let them find their place in the market, rather than creating government-owned or regulated housing units. This approach has been used in the US and Europe during periods of over-supply of housing (like after World War II). This has also been used in developing countries to house refugees.
A home is an intimate physical space where we share our lives, strengthen our communities, and care for each other. The lack of a home is a terrifying threat for many in the US, a fear that forces families to live in unsafe conditions and children out on the streets.
“It is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.” Matthew Desmond
“If poverty persists in America, it is not for lack of resources.” Matthew Desmond
While writing the Evicted summary, I found out that we are not focusing on the issue that is necessary to be resolved. This book is an eye-opener. Everyone should read especially If you live in America. Recommended.
To whom I would recommend the Evicted summary?
- A politician wants to learn about the causes of poverty.
- A college or university student researching a topic related to this.
- Anyone wants to help someone to get them out of tragic situations.