Eviction by Matthew Desmond

A Review By B. Newell

What happens when?

  • The neighborhood kids throw snowballs at a driver during the first good snowfall of winter and one driver kicks your door down. — You are evicted.
  • Your work hours are cut from full time to two days a week, so you cannot feed your family and pay rent. — You are evicted.
  • Your youngest child has a very severe asthma attack, so you call 911 and both paramedics and police show up. — You are evicted because the landlord doesn’t want any “nuisance people” at her place.
  • You take an apartment unit sight unseen because you have called or visited over 90 other places but were always turned down; you move to the unit with your two trash bags full of clothes and a small bag of toys only to find out that it has been condemned. — You are evicted.
  • Although you filled out all necessary paperwork for your disability check, the government doesn’t process it in reasonable time, therefore, you are short of money for rent. — You are evicted.

Evicted by Sociology professor Matthew Desmond is a carefully researched and well-documented book that reads like a novel.  It follows six families’ plummet towards increasing poverty and two landlords who profit from the poorest inhabitants of Milwaukee’s inner city.

Evicted is the UCC all-church-read book of the year, and the author was the keynote speaker during the United Church of Christ General Synod in June. According to the UCC website [the book] “will transform your understanding of eviction and its impact on generational poverty through unjust and differentially enforced housing policies. Desmond writes, “No moral code or ethical principle, no piece of scripture or holy teaching can be summoned to defend what we have allowed our country to become.”

A copy of the book is available for you to check out from our church library.  This highly recommended book gives new meaning to the phrase: There but for the grace of God go I.

Ed: The NPR program On the Media ran a two-part program on the issue of housing and evictions. You can listen online at https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/scarlet-e-part-one-why

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