Evicted: outlet online sale Poverty and Profit in the American sale City outlet sale

Evicted: outlet online sale Poverty and Profit in the American sale City outlet sale

Evicted: outlet online sale Poverty and Profit in the American sale City outlet sale

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • One of the most acclaimed books of our time, this modern classic “has set a new standard for reporting on poverty” (Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review).

In  Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” ( The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” ( New York Review of Books),  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. 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama • The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe • The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg • Esquire • BuzzFeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Politico • The Week • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal •  Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness

WINNER OF: The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction • The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction • The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism • The PEN/New England Award • The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize

FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE AND THE KIRKUS PRIZE

Evicted stands among the very best of the social justice books.” —Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth 

“Gripping and moving—tragic, too.” —Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones

Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Review

“Astonishing... Desmond has set a new standard for reporting on poverty.” Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Book Review

“After reading  Evicted, you’ll realize you cannot have a serious conversation about poverty without talking about housing. . . . The book is that good, and it’s that unignorable.”— Jennifer Senior, New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2016

“This book gave me a better sense of what it is like to be very poor in this country than anything else I have read. . . . It is beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.” —Bill Gates

“Inside my copy of his book, Mr. Desmond scribbled a note: ‘home = life.’ Too many in Washington don’t understand that. We need a government that will partner with communities, from Appalachia to the suburbs to downtown Cleveland, to make hard work pay off for all these overlooked Americans.” —Senator Sherrod Brown, Wall Street Journal

“My God, what [ Evicted] lays bare about American poverty. It is devastating and infuriating and a necessary read.” —Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women

“Written with the vividness of a novel, [ Evicted] offers a dark mirror of middle-class America’s obsession with real estate, laying bare the workings of the low end of the market, where evictions have become just another part of an often lucrative business model.” —Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times

“In spare and penetrating prose . . . Desmond has made it impossible to consider poverty without grappling with the role of housing. This pick [as best book of 2016] was not close.” —Carlos Lozada, Washington Post

“An essential piece of reportage about poverty and profit in urban America.” Geoff Dyer, The Guardian’s Best Holiday Reads 2016

“It doesn''t happen every week (or every month, or even year), but every once in a while a book comes along that changes the national conversation. . . .  Evicted looks to be one of those books.” —Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review

“Should be required reading in an election year, or any other.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Powerful, monstrously effective . . . The power of this book abides in the indelible impression left by its stories.” —Jill Leovy, The American Scholar

“Gripping and important . . . [Desmond''s] portraits are vivid and unsettling.” —Jason DeParle, New York Review of Books

“An exquisitely crafted, meticulously researched exploration of life on the margins, providing a voice to people who have been shamefully ignored—or, worse, demonized—by opinion makers over the course of decades.” —The Boston Globe

“[An] impressive work of scholarship . . . As Mr. Desmond points out, eviction has been neglected by urban sociologists, so his account fills a gap. His methodology is scrupulous.” Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Matthew Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond’s research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50 as one of “fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1. 

The Business of Owning the City

Before the city yielded to winter, as cold and gray as a mechanic’s wrench, before Arleen convinced Sherrena Tarver to let her boys move into the Thirteenth Street duplex, the inner city was crackling with life. It was early September and Milwaukee was enjoying an Indian summer. Music rolled into the streets from car speakers as children played on the sidewalk or sold water bottles by the freeway entrance. Grandmothers watched from porch chairs as bare-chested black boys laughingly made their way to the basketball court.

Sherrena wound her way through the North Side, listening to R&B with her window down. Most middle-class Milwaukeeans zoomed past the inner city on the freeway. Landlords took the side streets, typically not in their Saab or Audi but in their “rent collector,” some oil-leaking, rusted-out van or truck that hauled around extension cords, ladders, maybe a loaded pistol, plumbing snakes, toolboxes, a can of Mace, nail guns, and other necessities. Sherrena usually left her lipstick-red Camaro at home and visited tenants in a beige-and-brown 1993 Chevy Suburban with 22-inch rims. The Suburban belonged to Quentin, Sherrena’s husband, business partner, and property manager. He used a screwdriver to start it.

Some white Milwaukeeans still referred to the North Side as “the core,” as they did in the 1960s, and if they ventured into it, they saw street after street of sagging duplexes, fading murals, twenty-four-hour day cares, and corner stores with wic accepted here signs. Once America’s eleventh-largest city, Milwaukee’s population had fallen below 600,000, down from over 740,000 in 1960. It showed. Abandoned properties and weedy lots where houses once stood dotted the North Side. A typical residential street had a few single-family homes owned by older folks who tended gardens and hung American flags, more duplexes or four-family apartment buildings with chipping paint and bedsheet curtains rented to struggling families, and vacant plots and empty houses with boards drilled over their doors and windows.

Sherrena saw all this, but she saw something else too. Like other seasoned landlords, she knew who owned which multifamily, which church, which bar, which street; knew its different vicissitudes of life, its shades and moods; knew which blocks were hot and drug-soaked and which were stable and quiet. She knew the ghetto’s value and how money could be made from a property that looked worthless to people who didn’t know any better.

Petite with chestnut skin, Sherrena wore a lightweight red-and-blue jacket that matched her pants, which matched her off-kilter NBA cap. She liked to laugh, a full, open-mouthed hoot, sometimes catching your shoulder as if to keep from falling. But as she turned off North Avenue on her way to pay a visit to tenants who lived near the intersection of Eighteenth and Wright Streets, she slowed down and let out a heavy sigh. Evictions were a regular part of the business, but Lamar didn’t have any legs. Sherrena was not looking forward to evicting a man without legs.

When Lamar first fell behind, Sherrena didn’t reach automatically for the eviction notice or shrug it off with a bromide about business being business. She hemmed and hawed. “I’m gonna have a hard time doing this,” she told Quentin when she could no longer ignore it. “You know that, don’t you?” Sherrena frowned.

Quentin stayed quiet and let his wife say it.

“It’s only fair,” Sherrena offered after a few silent moments of deliberation. “I feel bad for the kids. Lamar’s got them little boys in there. . . . And I love Lamar. But love don’t pay the bills.”

Sherrena had a lot of bills: mortgage payments, water charges, maintenance expenses, property taxes. Sometimes a major expense would come out of nowhere--a broken furnace, an unexpected bill from the city--and leave her close to broke until the first of the month.

“We don’t have the time to wait,” Quentin said. “While we waiting on his payment, the taxes are going up. The mortgage payment is going up.”

There was no hedging in this business. When a tenant didn’t pay $500, her landlord lost $500. When that happened, landlords with mortgages dug into their savings or their income to make sure the bank didn’t hand them a foreclosure notice. There were no euphemisms either: no “downsizing,” no “quarterly losses.” Landlords took the gains and losses directly; they saw the deprivation and waste up close. Old-timers liked recalling their first big loss, their initial breaking-in: the time a tenant tore down her own ceiling, took pictures, and convinced the court commissioner it was the landlord’s fault; the time an evicted couple stuffed socks down the sinks and turned the water on full-blast before moving out. Rookie landlords hardened or quit.

Sherrena nodded reassuringly and said, almost to herself, “I guess I got to stop feeling sorry for these people because nobody is feeling sorry for me. Last time I checked, the mortgage company still wanted their money.” 

Sherrena and Quentin had met years ago, on Fond Du Lac Avenue. Quentin pulled up beside Sherrena at a red light. She had a gorgeous smile and her car stereo was turned up. He asked her to pull over. Sherrena remembered Quentin being in a Daytona, but he insisted it was the Regal. “I ain’t trying to pull nobody over in the Daytona,” he’d say, feigning offense. Quentin was well manicured, built but not muscular, with curly hair and lots of jewelry--a thick chain, a thicker bracelet, rings. Sherrena thought he looked like a dope dealer but gave him her real number anyway. Quentin called Sherrena for three months before she agreed to let him take her out for ice cream. It took him another six years to marry her.

When Quentin pulled Sherrena over, she was a fourth-grade teacher. She talked like a teacher, calling strangers “honey” and offering motherly advice or chiding. “You know I’m fixing to fuss at you,” she would say. If she sensed your attention starting to drift, she would touch your elbow or thigh to pull you back in.

Four years after meeting Quentin, Sherrena was happy with their relationship but bored at work. After eight years in the classroom, she quit and opened a day care. But “they shut it down on a tiny technicality,” she remembered. So she went back to teaching. After her son from an earlier relationship started acting out, she began homeschooling him and tried her hand at real estate. When people asked, “Why real estate?” Sherrena would reply with some talk about “long-term residuals” or “property being the best investment out there.” But there was more to it. Sherrena shared something with other landlords: an unbending confidence that she could make it on her own without a school or a company to fall back on, without a contract or a pension or a union. She had an understanding with the universe that she could strike out into nothing and through her own gumption and intelligence come back with a good living.

Sherrena had bought a home in 1999, when prices were low. Riding the housing boom a few years later, she refinanced and pulled out $21,000 in equity. Six months later, she refinanced again, this time pulling $12,000. She used the cash to buy her first rental property: a two-unit duplex in the inner city, where housing was cheapest. Rental profits, refinancing, and private real-estate investors offering high-interest loans helped her buy more.

She learned that the rental population comprised some upper- and middle-class households who rent out of preference or circumstance, some young and transient people, and most of the city’s poor, who were excluded both from homeownership and public housing.1 Landlords operated in different neighborhoods, typically clustering their properties in a concentrated area. In the segregated city, this meant that landlords focused on housing certain kinds of people: white ones or black ones, poor families or college students.2 Sherrena decided to specialize in renting to the black poor.

Four years later, she owned thirty-six units, all in the inner city, and took to carrying a pair of cell phones with backup batteries, reading Forbes, renting office space, and accepting appointments from nine a.m. to nine p.m. Quentin quit his job and started working as Sherrena’s property manager and buying buildings of his own. Sherrena started a credit-repair business and an investment business. She purchased two fifteen-passenger vans and started Prisoner Connections LLC, which for $25 to $50 a seat transported girlfriends and mothers and children to visit their incarcerated loved ones upstate. Sherrena had found her calling: inner-city entrepreneur.

Sherrena parked in front of Lamar’s place and reached for a pair of eviction notices. The property sat just off Wright Street, with empty lots and a couple of street memorials for murder victims: teddy bears, Black & Mild cigars, and scribbled notes lashed to tree trunks. It was a four-family property consisting of two detached two-story buildings, one directly behind the other. The houses were longer than they were wide, with rough-wood balconies painted blue-gray like the trim and vinyl siding that was the brownish-white of leftover milk in a cereal bowl. The house facing the street had two doors, for the upper and lower units, and a pair of wooden steps leading to each, one old with peeling paint, the other new and unvarnished.

Lamar lived in the lower unit of the back house, which abutted the alley. When Sherrena pulled up, he was outside, being pushed in a wheelchair by Patrice, whose name was on the other eviction notice. He had snapped on his plastic prosthetic legs. An older black man, Lamar was wiry and youthful from the waist up, with skin the color of wet sand. He had a shaved head and a thin mustache, flecked with gray. He wore a yellow sports jersey with his keys around his neck.

“Oh, I got two at the same time,” Sherrena tried to say lightly. She handed Lamar and Patrice their eviction notices.

“You almost been late,” Patrice said. She wore a headwrap, pajama pants, and a white tank top that showed off her tattoo on her right arm: a cross and a ribbon with the names of her three children. At twenty-four, Patrice was half Lamar’s age, but her eyes looked older. She and her children lived in the upper unit of the front house. Her mother, Doreen Hinkston, and her three younger siblings lived below her, in the bottom-floor unit. Patrice creased her eviction notice and jammed it into a pocket.

“I’m fixin’ to go to practice,” Lamar said from his seat.

“What practice?” Sherrena asked.

“My kids’ football practice.” He looked at the paper in his hand. “You know, we fixin’ to do the basement. I’m already started.”

“He didn’t tell me about that,” Sherrena replied, “he” being Quentin. Sometimes tenants worked off the rent by doing odd jobs for landlords, like cleaning out basements. “You better call me. Don’t forget who the boss is,” Sherrena joked. Lamar smiled back at her.

As Patrice began pushing Lamar down the street, Sherrena went over a checklist in her head. There were so many things to deal with--repairs, collections, moves, advertisements, inspectors, social workers, cops. The swirl of work, a million little things regularly interrupted by some big thing, had been encroaching on her Sunday soul food dinners with her mom. Just a month earlier, someone had been shot in one of her properties. A tenant’s new boyfriend had taken three pumps to the chest, and blood had run down him like a full-on faucet. After police officers had asked their questions and balled up the yellow tape, Sherrena and Quentin were stuck with the cleanup. Quentin set on it with a couple guys, rubber gloves, and a Shop-Vac. “Here you come with a boyfriend that I don’t know anything about?” Sherrena asked the tenant. Quentin dealt with messes; Sherrena dealt with people. That was the arrangement.

Then, a few days after the shooting, another tenant phoned Sherrena to say that her house was being shut down. Sherrena didn’t believe it until she pulled up and spotted white men in hard hats screwing green boards over her windows. The tenants had been caught stealing electricity, so the We Energies men had disconnected service at the pole and placed a call to the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS). The tenants had to be out that day.3

In Milwaukee and across the nation, most renters were responsible for keeping the lights and heat on, but that had become increasingly difficult to do. Since 2000, the cost of fuels and utilities had risen by more than 50 percent, thanks to increasing global demand and the expiration of price caps. In a typical year, almost 1 in 5 poor renting families nationwide missed payments and received a disconnection notice from their utility company.4 Families who couldn’t both make rent and keep current with the utility company sometimes paid a cousin or neighbor to reroute the meter. As much as $6 billion worth of power was pirated across America every year. Only cars and credit cards got stolen more.5 Stealing gas was much more difficult and rare. It was also unnecessary in the wintertime, when the city put a moratorium on disconnections. On that April day when the moratorium lifted, gas operators returned to poor neighborhoods with their stacks of disconnection notices and toolboxes. We Energies disconnected roughly 50,000 households each year for nonpayment. Many tenants who in the winter stayed current on their rent at the expense of their heating bill tried in the summer to climb back in the black with the utility company by shorting their landlord. Come the following winter, they had to be connected to benefit from the moratorium on disconnection. So every year in Milwaukee evictions spiked in the summer and early fall and dipped again in November, when the moratorium began.6

Sherrena watched the DNS hard hats march around her property. There were few things that frustrated landlords more than clipboard-in-hand building inspectors. When they were not shutting down a property, they were scrutinizing apartments for code violations. Upon request, DNS would send a building inspector to any property. The service was designed to protect the city’s most vulnerable renters from negligent landlords, but to Sherrena and other property owners, tenants called for small, cosmetic things--and often because they were trying to stop an eviction or retaliate against landlords. Sherrena thought about the money she had just lost: a few thousand dollars for electrical work and unpaid rent. She remembered taking a chance on this family, feeling sorry for the mother who had told Sherrena she was trying to leave her abusive boyfriend. Sherrena had decided to rent to her and her children even though the woman had been evicted three times in the past two years. “There’s me having a heart again,” she thought.

Sherrena drove off Wright Street and headed north. Since she was in this part of town, she decided to make one more stop: her duplex on Thirteenth and Keefe. Sherrena had let a new tenant move in the previous month with a partial rent and security deposit payment.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

tanksalot
1.0 out of 5 stars
40 Years experience as a blue-collar, small town landlord
Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2018
I''ve been a landlord for 40 years in a blue collar town. I started as a compassionate, trusting person willing to work with people and help them achieve stability. As a result, I''ve had people tell me their kitchen cabinets got stolen, had someone give a friend the storm... See more
I''ve been a landlord for 40 years in a blue collar town. I started as a compassionate, trusting person willing to work with people and help them achieve stability. As a result, I''ve had people tell me their kitchen cabinets got stolen, had someone give a friend the storm door to their apartment because their friend liked it, driven someone to an apartment to view it and then had to evict her later due to non-payment, relocated a tenant to a more affordable apartment that she agreed to work on (with me paying for materials) only to have to evict her for non-payment, and overall have lost well over $60,000 in the process.

If providing housing is a business, the owners NEED to make a profit. If it''s a charity, then it should be run as such. To demonize landlords for needing to make a profit from their time, expertise, investment and energy is unfair. Wal-Mart, car companies, and any other business NEEDS to make a profit to survive and grow. Nobody goes into Wal-Mart and says "I''ll pay you half and come back in a week with the balance" and expects cooperation. But a partial rent payment is supposed to be OK. (The fact that it negates the ability to evict that month seems to get lost in the shuffle. If the rent is $700, and I accept $10 as rent on the first, I CANNOT evict for non-payment of rent because the "rent" has been paid (just $690 short).

There exists a segment of the population of the people that simply do not respond positively to assistance. Yes, providing such assistance FEELS good for the provider(s), but self esteem and self confidence must be earned, and come from within. The assistance tends to de-incentivize the recipient and deprive them of the opportunity to feel good about themselves and their abilities.
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MilwaukeeJoe
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The ''Hood is Actually Not So Good
Reviewed in the United States on April 20, 2016
I have been involved with low income housing in Milwaukee for over three decades as a landlord and as an attorney for landlords and tenants. I know the neighborhoods and characters in this book all too well. If you want insight into poor people’s lives as they struggle to... See more
I have been involved with low income housing in Milwaukee for over three decades as a landlord and as an attorney for landlords and tenants. I know the neighborhoods and characters in this book all too well. If you want insight into poor people’s lives as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads, you should buy this book. The other reviews are right about how gripping those stories are. But if you are a graduate of Trump University and think you’ll get some insight into how to make obscene profits by renting to the poor you’ll find anecdotes but no real verified research about the business of landlording. Most significantly, you will not learn the truth that bringing evictions totally destroyed the rental business of Sherrena, the leading landlord protagonist.

Strangely, though Desmond interviewed 30 landlords he only focuses on two. One is Tobin, a mobile home park operator on Milwaukee’s south side, which is largely white and Hispanic. Tobin indeed makes a lot of money but that is because he does not have to maintain or repair 95% of the “dwellings” in his park. Tobin rents out a concrete slab with utility connections and the tenants buy or bring their own trailers and pay their own utilities. As owners they are responsible for the exterior and interior condition of their dwelling. Only 5% of the trailers are owned by the park and rented to tenants as a living unit. So Tobin is a landlord only in the sense that you might have a landlord this summer when you drive your Winnebago to a Jellystone Park and pay rent for the parking pad and utility hookups.

Then we have Sherrena who with her husband runs about 18 buildings (mostly two-family flats) in the African-American neighborhoods on the north side of Milwaukee. In a chapter titled “The ‘Hood is Good” Desmond blithely accepts Sherrena’s boast that she has a net worth of $2 million and nets $10,000 a month in rental income. Desmond is honest in portraying the many difficulties Sherrena has in collecting rent from her struggling tenants but he doesn’t do the background research (available from local court records) about the many thousands of dollars in unpaid rents and damaged units which sort of cut into profits a little bit.

As to her supposed net worth of $2 million, that averages out to $111,000 for each of these 18 ghetto properties - certainly far more than some of the real dumpy ones are worth – but the author does not research the amounts of the recorded mortgages against these properties (ranging between $64,000 and $119,200) which further greatly reduce the claimed net worth. That would have been revealed in the many foreclosures filed against Sherrena’s properties which started within a year after Desmond’s visit to Milwaukee.

So when this book came out in 2016 the curious reader might want to know: if the ‘hood is good for the landlord how much better has it gotten since the author did his study in 2009? Research so far shows that not one of Sherrena’s properties remains in her ownership. Starting in 2010 many were bulldozed, went into city ownership via foreclosure for nonpayment of real estate taxes or today sit as haunting, blighted eyesores. A few were foreclosed by lenders, were fixed up and are under new ownership.

Evictions by Sherrena ended in the year 2010. So did her non-existent profit. She joins many small-time under-capitalized landlords who have gone bust in Milwaukee and elsewhere since the Great Recession started in 2008 with the bursting of the housing bubble.

Please note that I still give the book 4 stars. Its significant defects in reporting on the “profit” aspect of its subtitle are outweighed by the important and detailed research on the effects of eviction in creating and perpetuating poverty. A better and expanded housing voucher program for low income tenants is much needed. Landlords nationwide should join Matt Desmond’s call for its implementation.
1,175 people found this helpful
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JWS48
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lacking rigor
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2018
I thought the book poorly written--not surprised he wrote it from a PhD dissertation. Without a doubt poverty is a major issue in the United States but this book did little to shed light on the causes and solutions. I found it interesting that the author was so critical... See more
I thought the book poorly written--not surprised he wrote it from a PhD dissertation. Without a doubt poverty is a major issue in the United States but this book did little to shed light on the causes and solutions. I found it interesting that the author was so critical of Sherrena taking vacations and making money off the poor and yet by his writing a book about the poor he also made money off them. The people he used as examples of poverty were not very sympathetic. Most, if not all, of them made poor choices contributing to their housing difficulties.

There were too many references to actually read or find all of them. One that I did check regarding pg 293 (kindle edition) the author says: "Every year in this country, people are evicted from their homes not by the tens of thousands or even the hundreds of thousands but by the millions." He cites a reference by Chester Hartman which says: "The number is likely in the many millions, but we have no way of gauging even a moderately precise figure for renters, because such data are simply not collected on a national basis or in any systematic way in most localities where evictions take place." So much for the reference! This kind of imprecision is rampant in the book.

It''s pretty easy to be cynical about this book. A young academic typically writes scholarly papers, or better yet, a text book, derived from his dissertation. None of those make money, but contribute to the author''s CV in the quest for tenure. He chose to write a popular screed that would make money instead. From the lack of rigor in this book, and the sloppy way he deals with statistics, you can see why he chose not to pursue a scholarly path with this material. One could conclude that he decided there is a market for "progressive exposes", and he could exploit it.
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JR
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Two parent households would solve most of the problems in this book.
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2019
First, good book and subject to write about. Well researched and written, although it jumps around to the different families in no coherent order so I did find myself trying to rehash who exactly was who in certain chapters. That said, this book wasn’t an eye opener, nor... See more
First, good book and subject to write about. Well researched and written, although it jumps around to the different families in no coherent order so I did find myself trying to rehash who exactly was who in certain chapters. That said, this book wasn’t an eye opener, nor did I think it deserved all the praise and awards it received... As I read this it, it occurred to me why it got so many awards, mostly self righteous rich editors who have never been around poor people reviewed the book and found it ‘eye opening’ and ‘shocking’. I did not, and found myself more often than not calling most of the characters morons, since I’ve met these people and lived around them. The author was good at hiding some of his bias in regards to government being the solution to all...but I don’t think he hit on the main crux of the people’s problems...They make horrible choices in life. He seemed to imply in his writing that it all came down to the home and that all these people need are solid clean homes with which they can’t get evicted from and they’d go out and get GED’s, stop using crack, smoking weed, having illegitimate children, and heroin. Right.

That said, he made some great points regarding the amount of rent charged versus the available supply and how landlords suck off the government when it comes to vouchers. He also exposed slumlords for what they are, pieces of trash.

Overall a good read. 3/5
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B. J. Ford
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wait....what?
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2019
In "Evicted", author Matthew Desmond seems to support the theory that stable housing produces stable people, but the examples he presents could easily be used to prove unstable people have unstable housing. I''m not sure this book is even about housing as much as it is about... See more
In "Evicted", author Matthew Desmond seems to support the theory that stable housing produces stable people, but the examples he presents could easily be used to prove unstable people have unstable housing. I''m not sure this book is even about housing as much as it is about racism, victimhood, the economic struggles of single mothers, mental illness, the struggle of being disabled, poor judgment, and bad decisions when people put more energy into having children they can''t provide for, supporting drug habits, and maintaining violent dysfunctional relationships than they put into meaningful work and education. Just that pesky "cause versus correlation" issue, I guess... As George Bernard Shaw observed, "Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the Rich is Uselessness." But it''s also worth remembering that it costs zero dollars to be a decent human being.
The author clearly thinks it''s society''s responsibility to fix many of the hardships faced by the economically disadvantaged. I believe he may have referenced John Kenneth Galbraith in passing, but failed to mention that Galbraith (in "The Affluent Society" and "The Nature of Mass Poverty"), in trying to understand why some -- in his case, third world countries -- failed to improve their living conditions after being provided with the tools and techniques to do so, concluded it was partly due to the reluctance of barely subsisting populations to risk the little they had on something new, but a major further explanation was simply accommodation: people just got used to barely surviving. And that''s a shame, because, although the poor have always been with us, having poor people really doesn''t benefit a society as a whole in any way, especially when there really is plenty for everyone. It may be harsh but true that yes, even in America -- actually maybe especially in America, with its aspirational culture where people are taught to hate the poor and want to acquire wealth -- the world doesn''t really care if someone ever makes it: it''s an individual''s own responsibility, and some circumstances are the result of choices rather than inevitability, or just plain luck. The book may have been more instructive if Desmond had focused on a few more tenants who had succeeded in overcoming their obstacles and transformed their lives for the better rather than primarily on the excruciating minutiae (does anyone really need to know Little the cat got killed because "a car had ground him into the pavement" - page 288?) a microcosm of people in desperate circumstances who were convinced they were doing their best and somehow failing anyway.
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Fred ForbesTop Contributor: Photography
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
For want of a nail ...
Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2017
Want to read a sociological treatise on poverty? Didn''t think so. Neither did I, but a Goodreads friend wrote a review that piqued my interest and considering that it takes place in Milwaukee where I lived for 8 years in the 70''s I thought it would be a bit of a stroll down... See more
Want to read a sociological treatise on poverty? Didn''t think so. Neither did I, but a Goodreads friend wrote a review that piqued my interest and considering that it takes place in Milwaukee where I lived for 8 years in the 70''s I thought it would be a bit of a stroll down memory lane. Little did I expect that a book on "property management" (eviction, especially) would be a NY Times bestseller, get named one of their top 10 books for 2016 and win a Pulitzer!

Truly a powerful piece of research and reportage. Some gave me some insight that had previously escaped me. For example, were you aware that a run-down crappy apartment or home costs as much to rent as one in good shape in a better neighborhood? Why? Because the folks who must rent them are blocked from the better neighborhoods - not enough job stability, too many kids, previous evictions or convictions, etc. In other words, the good neighborhoods don''t want these folks so the demand for housing in the crappy areas is intense. Higher demand, higher prices. How do they get around the "fair housing" laws? Easy, we won''t allow anyone in with legal issues, landlord issues, job or child issues and we apply that to everyone who applies. Gee, which group of people do you think may suffer under those criteria?

Let me precis a situation the author presents. A desperate woman grabs a purse while her friend points an unloaded gun at the victim. Naturally, the judge is not sympathetic, nor should he be but the author posits - had you been allowed to keep working 5 days a week at the restaurant, refilling soup pots and mopping up frozen yogurt rather than being cut back to 2 days, you might have been able to save some money and move to a better apartment that was de-leaded and clean and in a neighborhood without drug dealers and having safe schools. You might have been able to get medical care for your son''s seizures and take night classes to become a nurse. Who knows, maybe you actually could become a nurse with a uniform and everything. Then you could give your kids a childhood that would look nothing like the one you had. You could walk this cold city with your head held high and come to feel you were worth something and deserving of a man who could support you other than by lending you a pistol for a stickup or at least one who did not break down your door and beat you in front of your children. Maybe one with a steady job who would be proud to introduce you as his wife!

But that is not what happened. What happened was your hours were cut, your electricity was about to be shut off, you and your children were about to be thrown out of your house, and you snatched someone''s purse while your friend pointed a gun at her face. Well, thinks the judge, if poverty caused this crime, who''s to say you won''t do it again? The justice system is no charity, no jobs program, no housing authority. We see the underlying cause. If we cannot pull the weed up from the roots, at least we can cut it low at the stem.

The old "for want of a nail" mentioned by Ben Franklin in the 1750''s but may stretch back to 13th century England.

A powerful work, well written and well researched. Not only descriptive but prescriptive and a book that will haunt you for a long time to come.
34 people found this helpful
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PaulaS
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fascinating but grim
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2018
Read the book in just two sitting. It was engrossing but grim. It saddens me to know that people have to live like this. It also made me fear how close I could be to their situation. I don''t rent but also live pretty close to the financial edge. It is scary to know there... See more
Read the book in just two sitting. It was engrossing but grim. It saddens me to know that people have to live like this. It also made me fear how close I could be to their situation. I don''t rent but also live pretty close to the financial edge. It is scary to know there are so few safety nets for people. Read all the end notes too. Very well researched and documented. My only quibble was frustration with the bad choices made by some of the evicted tenants. Maybe the solution isn''t with housing itself but with providing a service to educate people on making wiser decisions so to avoid the evictions in the first place. Mothers, especially, who were raised in poverty, need instruction on how to alter their situation so they can stop or slow the ongoing cycle of poverty raising poverty.
21 people found this helpful
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T. V. OBrien
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This book takes advantage of poor people as much as landlords like Sherrena and Tobin
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2018
Part of me wonders whether this book has become so popular because the "haves" of the world are buying it as a sort of guilty pleasure, marveling at the squalor of the lives of some of their fellow Americans. Indeed, although Desmond asserts on the back cover that... See more
Part of me wonders whether this book has become so popular because the "haves" of the world are buying it as a sort of guilty pleasure, marveling at the squalor of the lives of some of their fellow Americans. Indeed, although Desmond asserts on the back cover that the book is about the "centrality of home" and that eviction/homelessness is its own special problem, the stories in the book point to the real problems faced by many poor Americans: single parenthood, unemployment, drug addiction, and crime. When Desmond recounts multiple cases of behind-on-their rent tenants handing over their welfare checks to pay for friends'' funerals or leaving work to hand out blankets in post-Katrina New Orleans (rather than recognizing that they are in such precarious positions as to require every dime of their own money and every minute of their own time to keep *their own lives* together), it''s hard to imagine most readers sympathizing, rather than shaking their heads at the lifetime of poor decisions that end up in chronic apartment-hopping. It''s hard to imagine an educated person with a full-time job, a home, and an internet connection (to buy this book on Amazon!) thinking that homelessness is these individuals'' main problem, rather than one of the aforementioned difficulties. A good person reads this book and asks himself how to solve the real problems (drugs, single parenthood, etc.), and a less nice person reads this book and thinks uncharitable thoughts about the people in it.

Desmond isn''t great with numbers, except when he''s quoting welfare check amounts and rent amounts. However, anyone with any familiarity with the details of life below the poverty line knows he''s not telling the whole story. One example is Arleen, whose welfare payment Desmond mentions; however, her son also has an IEP and is almost certainly receiving SSDI, and that number never makes it into the narrative.

Desmond is also big on sentimentalizing poor decision-making. Lamar somehow has money for marijuana, but paying rent on his welfare check is hard. Many of the families in the book have dogs (covering their apartments or trailers in "sh*t," a word with which Desmond is coarsely free), but struggle to feed their children. Natasha wants to be "free and independent," but has enough unprotected sex with her boyfriend, Malik, to end up pregnant; her family discourages her from forming a new family unit with Malik and the baby, telling her that they didn''t have daddies, so her kid doesn''t need one, despite the fact that Malik is pulling double shifts to become a responsible father.

It''s not hard to do the math. If one welfare check can get a single mother of two or three to eke out an existence, then she could live without fear if her children''s father lived with them and contributed his check. If physicians didn''t prescribe highly addictive opioids to people with back injuries, nurses like Scott wouldn''t become addicts and lose good jobs and good apartments by stealing pain meds from nursing patients. If people like Lamar didn''t raise their families to believe they were "too good" to help with a paint job, but should instead spend their time playing high school football, they might grow up to work (even at an unpleasant and difficult job), rather than subsisting on welfare payments. If interest rates were not ridiculously low, slumlords like Sherrena would not be able to buy up hundreds of decrepit housing units and rent them to desperate families.

My heart goes out to the folks in this book. I wish there were more people involved in counseling folks who start going down an unproductive path, and I wish all women respected themselves enough not to give away sex to men who vanish or end up in jail as soon as a baby is created. Even more, I wish people like Matthew Desmond wouldn''t exploit them to make a name for himself in declaring housing a unique problem with causes only policy wonks can remediate. To be sure, human beings have created incentives for bad behavior, and some of these (such as not requiring a certificate of occupancy before a landlord can rent out a roach-infested apartment) can and should be rolled back in cities where they still exist; however, what is required to pull some people out of the problems they''ve created for themselves is human beings genuinely caring about each other and doing more than handing their own family members enough money to make it through the week. Government can''t make that happen. Even churches can''t make that happen. Individual people have to make that happen.
25 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Laura Cattell
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A desperate journey through hopelessness.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2019
The one thing that stands out here is that America has a very flimsy and poorly constructed safety net - if you can call it that. There were so many mis-steps for everyone along the way here that were so easily avoided with some common sense and basic rules. People on...See more
The one thing that stands out here is that America has a very flimsy and poorly constructed safety net - if you can call it that. There were so many mis-steps for everyone along the way here that were so easily avoided with some common sense and basic rules. People on welfare should not be able to blow their entire month of food stamps on lobster. If you have a job you shouldn''t be taking time off to help someone move and then you lose your job. If a child kicks a teacher the family should not be evicted because of that. Many times I let out an enormous sigh of frustration at the sheer stupidity and arbitrary actions. ''Crystal'' needed serious intervention, not be left to cause mayhem and chaos. I don''t claim to know the answer to this massive social problem but providing basic needs, removing the threat of eviction, holding landlords to account, structured drug counseling - it would go a long way with a complete overhaul of the current system. It can be done with money that is currently being wasted.
3 people found this helpful
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Maggie Allder
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
focusing on the private rental housing market in inner city Milwaukee and on the way in which the poor have to negotiate every a
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2016
The is a stunning, highly readable piece of sociology, focusing on the private rental housing market in inner city Milwaukee and on the way in which the poor have to negotiate every aspect of their lives through the prism of unaffordable rents. It is not a crusading book,...See more
The is a stunning, highly readable piece of sociology, focusing on the private rental housing market in inner city Milwaukee and on the way in which the poor have to negotiate every aspect of their lives through the prism of unaffordable rents. It is not a crusading book, except in as much as being confronted by uncomfortable truths might cause readers to look differently, or even to look at all, at uncomfortable realities in the world around us. Reading this book in the comfort of a different continent (I am a European) the book appears almost prophetic. Policies initiated in the USA are copied by right wing governments in Europe. In Britain the social housing stock is being steadily reduced despite promises to the contrary, benefits are sanctioned and evictions are on the rise. We need to read this book and learn.
10 people found this helpful
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Eli
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One Long Sob Story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2021
Numerous stories of people who are evicted, repeatedly, from their homes apparently through no fault of their own except for poor education, psychiatric problems, drug addition, multiple unwanted pregnancies etc., which may not be their ''fault'' only but it is certainly not...See more
Numerous stories of people who are evicted, repeatedly, from their homes apparently through no fault of their own except for poor education, psychiatric problems, drug addition, multiple unwanted pregnancies etc., which may not be their ''fault'' only but it is certainly not the landlord''s. Long on emotion and short on facts. Solution suggested: we as a society must invest more in public housing. If only it were that simple! Hard to believe that this book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction 2017.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read it and weep
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 21, 2016
This book will haunt me for quite some time. By following the stories of those who face eviction time and again, I felt I came to know those who are at the bottom of life, and simply can''t climb out of that pit. The impact upon their children, in particular, is harrowing....See more
This book will haunt me for quite some time. By following the stories of those who face eviction time and again, I felt I came to know those who are at the bottom of life, and simply can''t climb out of that pit. The impact upon their children, in particular, is harrowing. Reading this book helps you to understand why the poor remain poor. Although the author did his research in the USA, I could see correlations with experience of people in the UK.
6 people found this helpful
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Alex Gardiner
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
American reportage at its best.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2019
Documenting the spiral of poverty that comes with low rent, low protection housing in a US city. Really powerful stuff and makes me so pleased we have a welfare state in the UK. When there is no safety net, it becomes almost impossible to bounce back.
2 people found this helpful
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