Evicted


Evicted by Matthew Desmond is an incredible work of investigative journalism that puts the reader in the heart of poverty stricken neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Told from the a third person omniscient perspective of the residents who are bound by the vicious cycle of low income housing, homelessness, government assistance, and poverty. This book will open your eyes to what people living below the poverty line endure and how the instability of a safe home can trigger a domino effect of misfortune in their lives. It is cliché to say, but this book should be required reading. Desmond created a truly one of a kind work that hones in on what it is like living day to day in dilapidated homes with the constant fear of eviction looming. To say this book is "eye opening" is an understatement.


There were an abundance of takeaways that I gleaned from Evicted, but below are some of the themes that stood out to me and impacted me the most:


1. A stable and safe home is the foundation for life and is essential.


Think about it. If you have a safe, comfortable, and stable home to go to at the end of the day that does not cost 90% of your monthly income, you will have money left over to buy healthy groceries for your family, your children will attend the same school without being uprooted mid year, you will have more discretionary income to spend on other needs and even "wants." A stable and safe home creates a foundation that a life can be built on. It keeps people out of homelessness, which reduces crime, reduces poverty, reduces government assistance, and creates a step for people to begin climbing out of the hole that poverty puts them in. To think that housing is not considered essential, when food, 12 years of public education, and other things are, is mind blowing. Everyone in the US deserves a safe place to lay their head at night. Just think about it.


2. The things in place that are supposed to help people get out of this cycle, only helps keep them in it. (Rehabilitation and support is essentially non existent.)

The checks and balances that are in place in the US when it comes to the housing market, creates an environment where tenants are stuck in a cycle. Rent low income housing, face eviction, move to a friend's couch or a shelter, repeat. The programs that are in place that should be helping rehabilitate and support them, only restrict them. Many programs do not assist people with a criminal record or past evictions, but to even be in the place of needed assistance, most people have had several evictions and potentially have criminal backgrounds. This perpetuates the cycle and does not allow them to ever get out of the hole they are in. For the people that see others living in poverty and baulk at why they don't just go get government assistance, chances are they tried and were denied. Think about it in the simplest terms: to get a job, you need to fill out an application and list your address, to have an address you need to have money to be able to pay rent. To be able to get government assistance, many programs require that you are working or actively job searching, but how can you work if you do not have an house address? It is a catch 22.


3. The housing cycle has created two extremes: those who are at the bottom of the food chain and are victims