Poverty and Profit in the American City

eBook - 2016
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New York Times Bestseller

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, "Love don't pay the bills." She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality--and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York City :, Crown,, 2016
ISBN: 9780553447446
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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Dec 04, 2018

Honest and raw, Desmond holds nothing back looking at both sides of a the housing crisis. I greatly enjoyed this read. It compliments nicely with Just Mercy.

Oct 16, 2018

The reporting is almost as amazing as the findings. Eye-opening if this is not your life.

SPPL_ReadBrave Aug 28, 2018

Evicted by Matthew Desmond is the 2019 Read Brave nonfiction selection. A 2017 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, it follows eight Milwaukee families struggling to pay their rent around the 2008 financial crisis.

May 26, 2018

Powerful and compelling book. Sympathetic, but clear-eyed where it would be easy to devolve into sentimentality. The author shows how a series of poor decisions can leave people behind the proverbial eight ball, particularly in the area of stable housing. The negative effects cascade, but there is hope and opportunity. Well worth the time to read this book!

May 14, 2018

This reads like a novel, but be warned. It is not the product of the author’s imagination. Made of victim’s stories in Milwaukee (“I feel dirty,” lamented the author, “collecting these stories and hardships like so many trophies.”) it could be about any city in the US. It shows the brokenness of a system that rewards for “cycling through” tenants – and it should kill those political ideas that the poor are lazy and deserve their situation. Many of the people in this book are trying to find work, or are already working two or more full-time jobs. Read this and your assumptions will be challenged, and you will want to help out.

May 03, 2018

This Pulitzer prize winner book was filled with stories of the desperate resilience of people against poverty and hardships in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was not an easy book to read. It was a depressingly accurate reminder of profit over people. Matthew Desmond describes the underbelly of horrific living conditions that exists in America and explains how and why the cycle of evictions repeat and repeat. This book is evidence that having a decent home to live in is not a luxury, but is a necessity for the mental and physical health development of children AND adults. Some countries believe this is a human right. America is not one of them.

May 02, 2018

Compelling story! 5 STAR!

Apr 29, 2018

I hope readers come away understanding that poor people aren't poor because they don't want to work hard. One of the many things I took away from reading this is "Poverty could pile on; living it often meant steering through gnarled thickets of interconnected misfortunes and trying not to go crazy." A part of me feels powerless because these are so many issues plaguing the country right now and the problem isn't the people, it's our laws and policies and our court systems have to change. The fact is many of us are only one tragic life event away from having to face many of the circumstances the people in the book face everyday. That realization helps to have compassion and empathy for others who have it rough. I hope this book opens someone else's eyes. In my opinion, the litmus test for nonfiction books are the end notes. For the good books I read the end notes completely and this was truly an extraordinary effort from Matthew Desmond. I'm a fan.

Feb 20, 2018

Desmond certainly earned his Pulitzer prize for this book on a topic he found totally ignored on housing issues in the US. Eviction, he found, defines the relationship between the landlord and the tenant, especially in those cases where the landlord is rich and the tenant is poor. He used an ethnographic case study approach to eviction in Milwaukee. His notes are often technical, and show how hard he worked to earn his dissertation. Even they are often fascinating, however, and the narrative of eight families is a page turner. I knew eviction existed but had no idea what it meant, either for landlord, or, to be more honest, for those evicted. Nor had I any idea how cruel the system is, and how it works to keep poverty entrenched, benefitting the 1%. I remember the prior president taking a similarly important book, "The Great Migration," about how after WW I, blacks fled the South for jobs in the North and West, on his first vacation in office. It's hard to imagine anybody in the current administration even knowing "Eviction" exists. Many of them, after all, are in real estate, and benefit greatly from their investments in real estate. Desmond manages to keep his tone calm until his personal afterward. He also offers some hope--two of the families were able to move away and turn their lives completely around. He also offers some specific solutions. A stunning book every American could benefit from reading.

Feb 08, 2018

This book was extremely eye opening. Stories wrapped around research. The author put a lot of time into this book and it showed. A great way to present these facts and concerns about housing. I would highly recommend this book.

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Apr 20, 2017

If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.

Apr 20, 2017

There are two freedoms at odds with each other: the freedom to profit from rents and the freedom to live in a safe and affordable home.

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Jul 24, 2018

lvccld_judi thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Apr 20, 2017

Between 2007 and 2009, the American housing market was shaken by the subprime mortgage crisis, in which banks foreclosed on millions of homeowners who could not keep up with their rapidly inflating mortgage payments. But another group of people is deeply affected by the trauma of displacement on a more regular basis: the renting poor. Many of these families are spending between fifty and seventy percent of their monthly income on housing, and even a small crisis can easily cause them to fall behind on the rent, making them subject to eviction. Sociologist Matthew Desmond takes the reader into two of Milwaukee’s poorest neighbourhoods, one predominantly white, the other mostly black, and spends eighteen months examining what happens when landlords evict those who have fallen behind on the rent.


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