Archive for the ‘poverty’ Tag

SOMETIMES LEARNING THE TRUTH CALLS FOR COURAGE — REVIEW OF “EVICTED”   1 comment

I just posted the following review on amazon and Goodreads.

EVICTED,: POVERTY & PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY, MATTHEW DESMOND

Don’t even think of reading this book if you’d rather not know the truth, or if compassion is annoying, or your compassion has worn you thin, or you don’t need or want to know anything more about the lives of your fellow Americans, or if people don’t count as fellow Americans if they are surviving below your status.

 Do make contact with this book if you care about our democracy and still hope for its long and healthier survival, or your compassion leads you to care about the lives of other people, or if you still believe that understanding/knowledge will help construct a road to solution.

This in-depth, detailed report of real people – mostly black – living lives of poverty in the inner city – to which they have been confined by laws and regulations – cannot but make you sad, angry, maybe even hopeful that something might be done to make this more like the America you want to live in. Consider this on page 295: “The persistence and brutality of American poverty can be disheartening, leaving us cynical about solutions. But as Scott and Patrice will tell you, a good home can serve as the sturdiest of footholds. When people have a place to live, they become better parents, workers, and citizens.”

 Spend a day with mothers whose time is completely taken up with the search for an apartment not only that they can afford, but that will accept them. Be with them when they have been evicted because their son or daughter has done a childish act of disturbing mischief that led to eviction – eviction, which is now a cause for rejection from other apartment rentals. Be with them when the apartment they do manage to rent – for a huge portion of their take-home pay – has non-functioning plumbing which they hesitate to report to the landlord because complaint can lead to eviction. Learn about the complex understanding of the financial and relational economic system that governs life on the move from one eviction to another. Try to raise a child who is regularly moved from one school to another because of frequent evictions and homelessness.

 Also on p. 295: “If Arleen and Vanetta didn’t have to dedicate 70 or 80 percent of their income to rent, they could keep their kids fed and clothed and off the streets They could settle down in one neighborhood and enroll their children in one school, providing them the opportunity to form long-lasting relationships with friends, role models, and teachers. They could start a savings account or buy their children toys and books, perhaps even a home computer. The time and emotional energy they spent making rent, delaying eviction, or finding another place to live when homeless could instead be spent on things that enriched their lives: community college classes, exercise, finding a good job, maybe a good man too.”

(And remember, until recently most renting families could reach the goal of spending not more than 30 percent of their income on rent.)

 Notice that each of the quotes above begins with names, and that’s the value of this disturbing but essential book. The author is telling the real stories of real people he has come to know in depth. These are not cold statistics reported by some distant observer. The author knows the renters – and the landlords – their lives and problems.

 For those who have the courage to reach into and understand these lives a new world of understanding will open and, one hopes, a world of new, creative, saving potentia

 Yes, I’m passionate about this most unusual and important book.

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