Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a tough but important story of poverty stricken Americans barely living in the slums of Milwaukee, WI. Pulitzer winner Matthew Desmond follows the lives of eight families renting "homes" in the slums of Milwaukee and the landlords they rent from. These people face rent fees that are often more than their income and their homes are in some of the worse conditions that anyone could imagine. When unable to come up with the needed funds for another month, many find themselves trying to decide between rent, food, or utilities. They are eventually evicted and added to eviction records that follow them to their next destination. Many times, the rent costs are the same or just below what one would find in a middle class area of town. The difference? Finding the landlord that will rent to someone with a past, with an eviction record, and without verifiable income. These landlords rarely keep up repairs and necessary work on their properties unless they know they have a decent tenant that will pay on time and consistently. It is a game that landlords and renters play. Many find themselves in holes that they can never climb out of but a few are able to persevere and beat the odds.
If nothing else, this book will bring to light an area of American life that is often ignored and make the case for affordable housing in the United States. The current programs to help the homeless and near homeless do not work well. Reform is desperately needed. Desmond does offer his idea of expanding the current voucher system that would eradicate the slums and put slum lords out of business. His idea would offer hope for many and give these people a chance to change their circumstances.
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