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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  83,814 ratings  ·  10,375 reviews
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America's most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss rem ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 418 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Crown Publishers
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Victoria It's remarkably good, one of the best in years. I even read through the acknowledgements, not wanting it to end. …moreIt's remarkably good, one of the best in years. I even read through the acknowledgements, not wanting it to end. (less)
Heather Yes. It's a detailed picture of individual and systemic failure. The filthy and dangerous conditions are horrifying. The "catch-22" of arrears, fines,…moreYes. It's a detailed picture of individual and systemic failure. The filthy and dangerous conditions are horrifying. The "catch-22" of arrears, fines, penalties, and debts make my head hurt. As with credit card debt and fines for driving misdemeanors, it's expensive to be poor - penalties for late payment and partial payment pile up. The sheer number and variety of damaged, broken, addicted people struggling to survive makes my heart hurt. The predatory behavior of the slumlords makes me angry, even while I sympathize with their desire not to be taken advantage of, cheated and ripped off. The self-destructive behavior of the tenants also makes me angry and baffled, even while I sympathize with their desire to indulge a little short-term comfort or rebellion in their rotten circumstances.
This book exposes the rental market for poor, uneducated, addicted, disabled people as predatory.(less)

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Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The brutal truth of poverty in America is far more devastating than any fiction ever could be. In evicted, Matthew Desmond brings rigorous sociological research and ethnography to Milwaukee's inner city. This book is painful and necessary and eye opening. I am ashamed of how little I knew about poverty and eviction. This book is fucking depressing and hopeless and excellent. We have got to do better. Also the segregation! And racist ass Ned who made his biracial stepdaughters say "white power" w ...more
Jennifer Masterson
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
This just won The Pulitzer! Yay! "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" is probably the most important book that I have ever read!!! If you are to read one non-fiction book this year it should probably be this book!!! This should be required reading in high school! I learned about poverty and poor renters, the eviction process, and scumbag landlords.

This book is about 8 families in Milwaukee. These are both Caucasian and African American families. The book is broken down into 3 parts
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is no surprise that "Evicted" was the University Wisconsin-Madison's Go Big Red book read for 2016, a book chosen by the chancellor and worked into campus-wide discussions and events. Set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it examines the lives of a number of people who deal with eviction and the property owners. To those outside the state, it might be less obvious how state politics have played into the background of many of the people in Evicted but suffice to say, the once-independent State of Wisco ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recalled that last year that author Roxane Gay was asked what was "the last book that made you furious?" She said: "'Evicted,' by Matthew Desmond. My God, what that book lays bare about American poverty. It is devastating and infuriating and a necessary read." So true. (I continue to think this book says oodles more than Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis about poverty, class, and the American Dream.)

I try to remember to sing this last stanza of Pretty Boy Floyd, the
Elyse Walters
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many thanks to my local friend- Cindy - for putting this book in my hands.

“Sherrena and Quentin always planned their vacations so that they were back before the first the month, when their days went long with eviction notices to pass out, new moves to manage, and rents to collect. Because most of their tenants didn’t have bank accounts, collecting rent was a face-to-face affair”.

“When Sheriff John walked into a house and saw mattresses on the floor, grease on the c
Felice Laverne
Matthew Desmond’s research-driven prose is a dazzling work of examination and insight. Within these pages, the business and culture of evictions is dissected down to the very dollars and cents that uphold this thriving industry. The judicial system and the role it plays is scrutinized, and the lives of 8 families are put on intimate display for readers to bear witness to. Within the pages of Eviction, Desmond paints a clandestine portrait of the precarious lives of those living at and below the ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, audio
Whatever our way out of this mess, one thing is certain. This degree of inequality, this withdrawal of opportunity, this cold denial of basic needs, this endorsement of pointless suffering-by no American value is this situation justified. No moral code or ethical principle, no piece of scripture or holy teaching, can be summoned to defend what we have allowed our country to become.

I begin this review with what is essentially the end of this book. There is another piece after this that will h
Wow, this is a powerful look at what it means to be poor in America.

The book follows eight families in the Milwaukee area, all facing eviction problems. Some of the families are white, some are black, some have children. All of them struggled to pay the monthly rent, which seemed ridiculously high for the broken-down places they got.

Families have watched their incomes stagnate, or even fall, while their housing costs have soared. Today, the majority of poor renting families in America spend ov
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

This book? This book was . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Per usual when I read a good hardcover, (1) I failed to watch my children play in their baseball games and instead kept my tunnel vision pointed directly at the book and (2) the flagging of the pages happened which made all of the parents around me give me the “that b*&^% be cray” look . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted. After re
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
This is definitely not Good Times

Palm Springs commercial photography

I didn't realize until I read the afterward that the author of this book put himself right into the middle of the people he portrays lives. He gave them rides to look for houses, he even loaned them small amounts of money at times. He admits that he misses living in the trailer park among them.

This book. I hope more people get it and read it. I've been on a "smart book" kick lately and I've starred them all pretty highly but this one is just amazing. Desmond
Richard Derus
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review: 5* of five

***2018 UPDATE***
My latest blogged review to crest 1,000 views! Yay me!

I voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. Why? Because I'm a radical who wants to re-rig the system and change the course of the Ship of State 180 degrees.

“Every condition exists,” Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “simply because someone profits by its existence. This economic exploitation is crystallized in the slum.” Exploitation. Now, there’s a word that has been scrubbed out of the po
Diane S ☔
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
I actually finished this last night, and since then have been trying to figure out how to process my feelings and thoughts about this book. Raised in Chicago I am aware of the housing crisis, remember well both the crime ridden, drug and gang infested, Robert Taylor homes and Cabrini Green. Public housing failures. Although this book is about Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the author states this is a crisis effecting any large, urban city. Following eight families, two landlords we are personally made ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
This is what poor looks like in America. It’s not a pretty picture. There’s no question we have a flawed system, and the cycle continues with no way out for those who are caught up in poverty and substandard living conditions. There are no heroes in this book, neither the tenants or the landlords. There are situations that will break your heart, and situations that will infuriate you. It’s easy to judge the poor but unless we’ve walked in their shoes I think we’d do better to try and understand ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
A high 4 stars.

Much has been written about Evicted. There’s not much I can add other than to say everyone should read this book. And not just for the stories of the people the author follows, but for everything at the end about the importance of having an affordable home and the author’s experience of doing the research for the book. It’s a heartbreaking and important book. It brings to life what it means for families and individuals to live in precarious housing situations. He humanize his subj
This book won a number of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, for uncovering a housing problem in America that appears to disproportionately affect low-income renters and keep them in a cycle of perpetual uncertainty: eviction. A beautifully written and involving set of individual family case studies, this sociological work casts light on a problem that has developed over time and has not been well understood to date.

Desmond is able to involve his readers in the lives of the people he describes
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
What. A. Goat. Rodeo.

Super interesting and frustrating and appalling and unbelievable and believable and terrifying and infuriating and heartbreaking and......well, you get the idea.

The first part of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book brings together a handful of characters (landlords and tenants) in a poor Milwaukee neighborhood and tells their stories - what brought them to where they are, what keeps them stuck in poverty, what options (if any) they have. Desmond does a really good job of choos
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, politics, memoir
In Evicted, Matthew Desmond shares the experiences of eight families as they try to make ends meet in the most run-down neighborhoods of Milwaukee. And this would be interesting enough, but, amazingly, Desmond ALSO shares the experiences of two landlords who manage some of the properties where these families live. All together, it makes for some engaging, eye-opening, big-picture reading.

You’d think that a 400-page tome about such a weighty and depressing topic would be a tedious and slightly im
Jessica J.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to hold elected office in this country, no matter what level you’re at. It’s immersive sociological reporting at its finest—at the height of the recession, Matthew Desmond moved into some of the poorest sections of Milwaukee and immersed himself in the lives of the people who had little choice but to live there. He tells the stories of the tenants and the landlords in their own voices, with such clarity and precision that it’s almost ea ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A fantastic and difficult book that follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Evicted shows the challenges these white and black families encounter as they fail to pay their rent, get evicted, and experience countless cruelties along the way. The book recognizes these families' humanity by showing their remarkable resilience and kindness as well as their mistakes. Matthew Desmond ends the book by revealing the vast reporting and research he pu
Clif Hostetler
This book describes the misery of living at the ragged edge of homelessness. The first 80 percent of the book follows in detail the experiences of eight low-income families (including both black and white) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The final part of the book is a long Epilogue that provides a concluding summary and a description of how the author collected his information and data by living among the subjects he writes about.

The reading experience of exposure to the stories in this book is distu
This book that showcases tenants and landlords/landladies and the barriers that exists on all sides. This is a must read for everyone. We (Americans) doom people to permanent poverty and a lower caste simply by not ensuring safe and adequate shelter that is affordable. In this book we see people who have the least being exploited for every penny. We see landlords barely above poverty themselves who are regulated in ways that make them have to evict people or face penalties and/or undesirable scr ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pulitzer, read2017
This author is coming to my institution on Wednesday so I sped through the reading of this book, making some notes.

I think I'll start by saying how impressed I was by how he did the research, which you don't learn about until the end of the book. He lives in Tobin's trailer park. He lives with Scott. He moves to the north side and acknowledges this weird white buffer he is given. Along the way he develops relationships with people struggling to stay in their housing, with landlords who are parti

I don't often read non-fiction and, almost always after making the effort to, I realise I should be making more room for it in my reading diet. Especially for books of the quality of Evicted. This was everything I would hope for and more from a Pulitzer prize winner. A cataclysmic expose of the affordable housing crisis and grinding poverty in the United States.

In the author's own words-

I wanted to try and write a book about poverty that didn't focus exclusively on poor people or poor place
Mariah Roze
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have been wanting to read this book forever since this book talks about the truth with eviction in Milwaukee, Wissconsin- an area that I visit often: just last weekend...

The author, Matthew Desmond, takes us to some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee and shares the stories of eight families. One of the families is Arleen's. She is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Another person story he shares is Scott
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
2017 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

Yes, it's incredibly depressing- but a must read. Middle class complaining about how difficult it is to get by, could certainly be enlightened by this book. It's sad how many families and kids go through things like eviction. It makes me grateful to live where I live, have the family I have and to have reliable income.
Roy Lotz
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.

Yesterday, on July 24, the federal moratorium on evictions—protecting about 12 million renters—ended; and many state-level moratoriums will conclude soon as well. Enhanced unemployment benefits, which gave households an extra $600 per month, will terminate this month, too, meaning that families will lose income at just the moment they are vulnerable to eviction. Meanwhile, as the virus rages on, so does massive unemployment. It seems like
Book Riot Community
This book won the Pulitzer, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and I can absolutely see why. Author Matthew Desmond spent months living in a trailer park and then an inner-city rooming house in Milwaukee, getting to know the renters and their landlords and observing firsthand what the housing crisis looks like. By telling these stories, he shows how hard it is for the poor to find and keep decent, affordable housing. This book frequently infuriated me, but it also raised in me a strong ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars
Reviewing this book is proving much harder than I expected. Normally when I struggle to figure out why I didn't click with a book, I go to the one and two-star ratings. Especially for a book like this with over 54,000 ratings, it doesn't take long for me to find someone who says something I click with. But that did not help here. So I went to the five star ratings and I read a page full of glowing reviews. But those didn't help either.
This book literally has an average 4.47/5. And I ju
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
Desmond creates two narratives in this very disturbing account showing how evictions impact the inner city poor. One narrative takes an intimate look at people barely surviving in a catch as catch can existence. Desmond tells us how they cope, interact and maintain a life with friends and family under the constant uncertainty that they will have a place to live. Another narrative is about the landlords, the relevant government agencies, and how their policies and practices keep the poor trapped ...more
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Evicted is a painstakingly researched ethnography of the housing crisis, told through the voices of members of two communities (one black, one white) - a trailer park and project housing in Milwaukee.

I was deeply touched, enlightened, profoundly depressed, and humbled by this work. Although I, as other Americans, are frequently exposed to statistics about poverty, these are but abstractions that only serve to reinforce the distance between the poor and the not (we can just make our donation to
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Matthew Desmond is social scientist and urban ethnographer. He is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. He is also a Contributing Writer for The New York Times Magazine.

Desmond is the author of over fifty academic studies and several books, including "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," which won the Pulitzer Prize

Articles featuring this book

Pageturners are by no means limited to the world of fiction. In fact, a great narrative nonfiction book can often read like the most twisty of...
59 likes · 19 comments
“Every condition exists,” Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “simply because someone profits by its existence. This economic exploitation is crystallized in the slum.” Exploitation. Now, there’s a word that has been scrubbed out of the poverty debate.” 79 likes
“it is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.” 71 likes
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