• by Matthew Desmond
  • Narrated by Dion Graham
  • 11 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur; and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but, as Sherrena puts it, "Love don't pay the bills". She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their incomes on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality - and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.


What the Critics Say

"A groundbreaking work.... Desmond delivers a gripping, novelistic narrative.... This stunning, remarkable book - a scholar's 21st-century How the Other Half Lives - demands a wide audience." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Gripping storytelling and meticulous research undergird this outstanding ethnographic study.... Desmond identifies affordable housing as a leading social justice issue of our time and offers concrete solutions to the crisis." (Publishers Weekly)
"Evicted is astonishing - a masterpiece of writing and research that fills a tremendous gap in our understanding of poverty. Taking us into some of America's poorest neighborhoods, Desmond illustrates how eviction leads to a cascade of events, often triggered by something as simple as a child throwing a snowball at a car, that can trap families in a cycle of poverty for years. Beautiful, harrowing, and deeply human, Evicted is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice in this country. I loved it." (Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good storytelling, but conclusions a bit weak

I listened to this over the period of 3 days. It was a great listen if general American misery makes for a good listen.There are a lot of people and lots of storylines mentioned so you can forget who is who with similar sounding names, but it not too confusing.
The strength of the audiobook are the stories of the difficult to house, people who get behind on rent and two different landlords. The author seems to be very fair in his portrayal of the landlords who are the two main landlord subjects and a bit less so regarding other landlords who come up in the book. As a landlady myself, I appreciate that.
I wish he spent a serious chapter exploring alternatives to the problems presented. This makes me wonder if the publisher suggested throwing in the housing alternatives because compared to the rest of the book this was glaringly weak. Explore the voucher program and other alternatives and the real world problems of why the renters in this book could still have troubles.
I'm not sure what sane non-slumlord landlord would rent to the subjects looking for housing. They have income problems and for some lacking in 'home training'. I was hoping the author's solutions would be something that would help the people in the book. But as landlords, even Section 8 (housing voucher) landlords, get savvy about screening, the people in his book are going to be screwed.
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- Marie "Professional librarian type, amateur historian."

Causation or correlation

I don't disagree that being evicted creates issues. Nor do I dispute the fact that eviction may be the cause of many ills. However, the antidotal evidence outlined in the book leads me to believe that drug use is a leading cause for many issues, and being evicted is a symptom of a much larger social issues and not the cause.

I also feel like the author kept spinning that "70% to 80%" of people's income goes to housing. But that income is only from food stamps / welfare / SSDI. Not sure what else you expect.... Can rent get much cheaper than $500/month? Maybe the answer is to increase welfare? Basic income for all? Not trying to be a jerk or argue here. I really don't know the solution.

Not sure that even his solutions are viable

I have also conducted affordable housing research and have underwritten billions of dollars worth of conventional and affordable multifamily loans. And I am unable to connect the dots here --- but I tried.

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- Ashley Allen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio