“There is an enormous amount of pain and poverty in this rich land,” Matthew Desmond writes in the conclusion of his powerful and well researched book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.
The Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond follows the intertwined fortunes of eight low-income families in the deindustrialised middle-sized city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their main characteristic is poverty and what holds them back, Desmond argues, is rent. Where the standard measure is that the rent should be no more than 30% of your income, “an arbitrary number, that creates more distortions than it actually solves”, as David Bieri, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan argues, for poor people it can be 70% or more. According to Michael Stone, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, “shelter poverty” is defined as the denial of a universal human need. It describes the condition of people who spent so much on housing that they have to cut back on other necessities, such as food and health care. It is a condition that drag those who lack the skills and smarts to fit the 21st-century economy, down.
As Desmond shows, the main victims of eviction are women. They earn less than men for doing the same job. But the main reason is that women bear all the costs and burdens raising their children as single mothers. Although some of them get some help from their children fathers, in most cases they are emotionally abused women that get only trouble from men who are abusive, addicted or in prison.
According to United Nations “forced evictions commonly result in people being pushed into extreme poverty and as such pose a risk to the right to life itself.” It is a cruel, inhuman process. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. They have a detrimental psychological impact on children, and result in indirect violation of political rights, as homeless people often are denied the right to vote. Forced evictions occur thought the word, in both developed and developing countries. Urbanisation, climate change, global financial crises has had a direct and severe impact on housing while withdrawal of state interventions for securing the rights of disadvantaged groups, as well as ongoing and often systematic discrimination contributed into making evictions more dire and complex.
powerful, vivid and important book.