Harvard's Matthew Desmond On Evictions And The Cycle Of Poverty

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15 Ruggles Street, where some residents are currently facing eviction. (Joe Difazio/WBUR)
15 Ruggles Street, where some residents are currently facing eviction. (Joe Difazio/WBUR)

The majority of poor families who rent spend more than half of their income on housing — and many Americans are evicted every year.

Housing advocated call it a crisis here in Boston — and one we've talked about here on Radio Boston.

In his powerful new book, Matthew Desmond describes how evictions push people deeper into poverty, scar them forever, harm children and families — while providing a lucrative business for those who prey on the poor.


Matthew Desmond, professor of social sciences at Harvard, where he co-directs the Justice and Poverty Project. His new book is "Evicted: Poverty And Profit In The American City." He tweet @just_shelter.


The New Yorker: Forced Out

  • "Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare enough to draw crowds. Eviction riots erupted during the Depression, though the number of poor families who faced eviction each year was a fraction of what it is today. In February, 1932, the Times published an account of community resistance to the eviction of three families in the Bronx, observing, 'Probably because of the cold, the crowd numbered only 1,000.'" These days, evictions are too commonplace to attract attention."

Radio Boston series: Evictions In East Boston

  • "We’ve had a number of conversations on Radio Boston about the city’s housing crisis, but one aspect of the situation that doesn’t get much attention is the evictions. Many long-term tenants in Boston’s neighborhoods are being issued 'no fault evictions,' forcing them out because of skyrocketing rents and home values."

Radio Boston: Hundreds Turn Out As Boston Debates A Just-Cause Eviction Ordinance

  • "Protesters gathered at City Hall Plaza Monday demanding major changes in the city’s eviction laws and housing advocates are pushing for a new so-called “just-cause” eviction ordinance in Boston. We’ve been covering this issue since last fall, when residents first started alerting us to what they call an eviction crisis caused by spiking rents and property values. The first shock waves of that crisis rolled through City Hall recently, as housing advocates had their first chance to present their “just-cause” ordinance ideas to Boston city councilors."

Radio Boston: MacArthur ‘Genius’ Matthew Desmond On Eviction In Low-Income Areas

  • "The MacArthur Foundation announced its class of 2015 ‘Genius’ Fellows. Among the winners was Dr. Matthew Desmond, associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University. Desmond researches the effects of eviction on low-income families. He lived for a time in low-income housing in Milwaukee to conduct ethnographic research and also started the Milwaukee Area Renters Study to collect data on informal and formal evictions in the city’s poorest neighborhoods."

This segment aired on March 31, 2016.


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