Book of the Week: Evicted
In his book Evicted, ethnographer Matthew Desmond tells the experience of families who live under the constant threat of eviction and brings to light a question that is rarely thought of: who benefits from poverty? The answer can be found in one landlord’s lavish lifestyle funded by her low-income tenants’ rent money. What is troublesome about this situation is that these tenants were specifically targeted for being low-income, having 70% or more of their income or money from government programs go to their rent. With the risk of homelessness looming over them, these families live in filthy, broken down homes without being able to complain to their landlords or seek legal assistance.
The microscope of this study is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during 2008 and 2009. The division between race is clear with white couples having an easier time finding new homes after they’re evicted. The segregation seen between white people in trailer parks and black people being confined to run down housing in bad neighborhoods of the city speaks of how economic exploitation works to divide people who are suffering the same struggles. For many of these families and minor characters, having been evicted marks them and traps them in a cycle. Poverty has become a lucrative business that exploits the basic human right of having a home.