Shout out to Bill Gates and his book review of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond
Why are people poor in America? Answer: It’s complicated. That is to say, the answers are not as simple as our politically-charged culture tends to make it appear. Books like this are helpful paths through the pundit noise to help us see what is actually happening and, God willing, come to better solutions.
Here’s one notable section from his book review:
“True to its title, much of Evicted is about how hard it is to find and keep a home when you live in deep poverty. Most experts agree that the ideal is to spend no more than 30 percent of your income on housing; according to Desmond’s research, most poor families have to spend over 50 percent on housing, and for many it’s over 70 percent.
When you’re paying so much to keep a roof over your head, there’s no room for bad luck. A single bad incident can send you reeling. One woman in the book, Arleen, gets evicted from her apartment after someone breaks down her front door over a minor dispute involving kids throwing snowballs. Another time, she falls irreparably behind on the rent after helping to pay for the funeral of a close friend.
For me, though, Evicted’s biggest contribution isn’t the focus on housing. It’s the dramatic illustration of the ways in which issues of poverty are intertwined. When someone has to search for a new place to live, they miss work, which cuts back on their pay and makes them more likely to get fired. And all this instability has a terrible impact on children. One of Arleen’s sons attends five different schools in a single year.…
As Desmond puts it: ‘Eviction’s fallout is severe. Losing a home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods, uproots communities, and harms children. Eviction reveals people’s vulnerability and desperation, as well as their ingenuity and guts.’”