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Evicted – Poverty and ProFit In the American City Book Report

Autor:   •  April 2, 2019  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,079 Words (5 Pages)  •  38 Views

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Evicted – Poverty and Profit in the American City

        The non-fiction book Evicted written by Matthew Desmond is set in Milwaukee and voices firsthand accounts of the heartbreaking stories of eight families who are each struggling to pay their rent. The affordable housing crisis is the center of their stories, and the events outlined in their lives take place between 2008 and 2009. Desmond does an excellent job at taking people who society may deem worthless and shows us their humanity and how hard they struggle to maintain a simple way of life in conditions that are constantly working against them. Desmond argues one of the main condition holding people back is rent prices. For many people in the story, rent payments were eating up over 70% of their income. Some of these people live in constant debt to their landlord, and therefore can be evicted at any time the landlord determines.

        One of the main arguments Desmond makes is that forced evictions are a cause of poverty, not a symptom. In all of the cases of the families in the book, the reader is shown how evictions impact their daily lives, mental health, and ability to live. Not only do we see the pain and suffering these evicted people incur, we also see how much landlords are profiting from this pain. Poor people who try their luck in a private market that is plagued by discrimination and over-inflated prices have a significantly harder battle to face while landlords profit off their misfortune. Desmond believes that these struggling families trying to make rent should be given housing subsidies and the profit that landlords are making off rent should have limits. Another argument that Desmond makes is that there are high social costs for evictions, and they put a large amount of stress on families. Evictions prevent people from saving money, sometimes take possessions away, cause applying for new housing to be more difficult because of an eviction on one’s record, hurts children who are forced to move to new schools, and can cause people to lose jobs. Overall, Desmond believes evictions are destroying communities and peoples’ livelihoods.

        I agree with Desmond’s argument that there should be more programs that assist with housing subsidies and landlords shouldn’t excessively profit from the poor if they are taking advantage of them. I do think that poverty is profitable and, to some extent, that it is hurting poverty’s ability to be alleviated. For example, one may not believe there is a lot of money to be made in a trailer park, but in the story Tobin makes $400,000 a year. Many poor people are simply victims of their circumstances, instead of having mad morals, lazy attitudes, or lack skills like many other critics argue. For Lamar in the story, after he paid his landlord his rent of $550, he only has $2.19 a day for the month. Lamar is someone who lived in chronic debt to his landlord and was forced to go to extremes to make a life for himself such as selling his food stamps for half of face value. Additionally, it is said in the book that three in four people who qualify for housing assistance get nothing. This is a harsh reality that many poor people face, and it is something in our society that we have a duty to change. I also agree that there are many social costs to evictions. For example, there were several instances where people had their benefits cut because notices were sent to the incorrect address due to an eviction. In the book, I also saw how kids suffered through these evictions because of always changing schools such as in Jori’s case where we see him fall behind in school. Stories like these are heartbreaking to hear, but they effectively portray how communities and individual’s quality of life are being harshly affected by evictions.

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