matthew desmond

matthew desmond


intro’d to Matthew here:

A Harvard sociologist on watching families lose their homes

Original Tweet:

The first time the sociologist Matthew Desmond rode along during an eviction, he was shocked by the suddenness of “seeing your house turn into not your house in seconds.”


Mr. Desmond, an associate professor at Harvard, has spent the last eight years studying evictions from seemingly every possible angle. His research has made him a rising star in the field and last year won him a MacArthur fellowship, the so-called genius grant.

Now, with “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” to be published on March 1 by Crown, Mr. Desmond aims to bring an overlooked aspect of American poverty and inequality to a broader audience.

not available via overdrive..added to books to read list –

evicted – thank you library

“We’ve tended to look through housing to things like neighborhoods or gentrification,” he said over lunch at a deli near Bronx Housing Court, where he was about to offer a reporter a tour. But the difficulty of finding and keeping a roof over one’s head — for many families in eviction court, rent consumes as much as 80 percent of their income, he writes — has become “not just a consequence of poverty, but a cause of poverty.”


“Just as incarceration has come to define the lives of low-income black men, eviction is defining the lives of low-income black women,” Mr. Desmond said.

incarceration .. poverty.. living spaces.. money less ness.. et al..

Evicted,” which closely follows eight families and their landlords, both black and white, mostly keeps the data to the endnotes. Written with the vividness of a novel, it offers a dark mirror of middle-class America’s obsession with real estate, laying bare the workings of the low end of the market, where evictions have become just another part of an often lucrative business model.


He sits with tenants while they debate whether to hold back rent money to pay for food or a relative’s funeral, and visits warehouses where the possessions of evicted families are held — if they haven’t just been dumped by the curb.

“There is always a lot of kids’ stuff,” Mr. Desmond said. “Seeing that piled up in the snow is really disturbing.”


“The things you’re closest to are often the things you know least about,” he said.


“Even growing up the way I did, I was shocked by the level of poverty I saw as a college student. I thought the best way to understand it was to get close to it on the ground level.”


Mr. Desmond, who has created a website,, which gathers information about housing groups across the country, makes no bones of the advocacy component of his work.


Urban Sociologist 2015 MacArthur Fellow


on immersion to figure out a new picture of poverty/housing

there’s a lot of capacity to do something major about this..

a nother way

for (blank)’s sake


2015 – Dalton Conley and Matt Desmond discuss his research on eviction patterns and the housing crisis



eviction goes on record.. like a criminal charge…

if family has experienced an eviction.. experience downward drop of neighborhood.. excluded from benefits.. leads to job loss

presence of children leads to greater probability of eviction – we attribute that to the landlords.. not the courts.. for landlords.. inconvenient.. child protective services come in, police come in, kids flush things down toilet…


The best article I’ve read in a very long time. #RealCollege
Original Tweet:

Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.

Demand for home health care has surged as the population has aged, but according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 median annual income for home health aides in the United States was just $23,130. Half of these workers depend on public assistance to make ends meet.

To afford basic necessities, the federal government estimates that Vanessa’s family would need to bring in $29,420 a year. Vanessa is not even close — and she is one of the lucky ones, at least among the poor.

If the working poor are doing better than the nonworking poor, which is the case, it’s not so much because of their jobs per se, but because their employment status provides them access to desperately needed government help.

When Americans see a homeless man cocooned in blankets, we often wonder how he failed. When the French see the same man, they wonder how the state failed him.

If Vanessa clocked more hours, it would be difficult to keep up with all the ways she manages her family: doing the laundry, arranging dentist appointments, counseling the children about sex, studying their deep mysteries to extract their gifts and troubles. Yet our political leaders tend to refuse to view child care as work.

Caring for a sick or dying parent doesn’t count either.

Here is the blueprint. First, valorize work as the ticket out of poverty, and debase caregiving as not work. Look at a single mother without a formal job, and say she is not working; spot one working part time and demand she work more. Transform love into laziness. Next, force the poor to log more hours in a labor market that treats them as expendables. Rest assured that you can pay them little and deny them sick time and health insurance because the American taxpayer will step in, subsidizing programs like the earned-income tax credit and food stamps on which your work force will rely. Watch welfare spending increase while the poverty rate stagnates because, well, you are hoarding profits.

We need a new language for talking about poverty. “Nobody who works should be poor,” we say. That’s not good enough. Nobody in America should be poor, period. t


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Sociologist , Contributing writer , PI , Writes books, Country boy, Not supposed to be here