Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

by Matthew Desmond

Broadway Books, New York, 2016, Amazon $11.88, paperback
Matthew Desmond is a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University.
His book “Evicted” has won several awards since publication in 2016.

In “Evicted” Matthew Desmond exposes the 10 million low income households that pay half or more of their income for rent and utilities.  “Evicted” follows 8 families (black, white, with children and without children) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who are in the process of eviction.  Losing their home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street.  This is among the most urgent and pressing issues facing America today.

Desmond’s two main points:

  1. Growing numbers of low-income households pay much of their income, some as much as 70% or more for rent.  This leaves little for food, medicine and other basic needs.
  2. Evictions aren’t just a consequence of poverty, but also a cause.

Desmond is a poverty expert who engages with the poor.  His images are vivid.  For example, Crystal who takes in Arleen, had parents on crack and she got passed around to two dozen foster homes.  She ends up homeless and prostituting herself, but never misses church!

This book is about one of the most basic human needs – a roof overhead.  The stories Desmond tells are gripping, moving, tragic and true!  This book enlightens us and serves as a call to action.

Surely some of the children in our childcare agencies come to us as a result of their family being evicted and the cascading events that follow.  The following is from the back cover of the book. 

Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems.  Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.