‘Evicted’ author Matthew Desmond to speak at CPH April 4 and 5

Published on March 22, 2017

Author Matthew Desmond and MPH student Pheobe Trepp talk about poverty, housing issues, and the need for additional research in these areas.

cover of the book Evicted

Selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review

Book Club Events

Tuesday, April 4
Public Lecture
7:30 PM
Callaghan Auditorium (N110 CPHB)

Wednesday, April 5
Research Week Keynote/CPH Spotlight Series for students, faculty, and staff
12:30 PM
Callaghan Auditorium (N110 CPHB)

Borrow a Book

CPH students, faculty, and staff are invited to borrow a copy of the book from the college for a two-week period. Email to request a book loan or stop by S161 CPHB to pick up a copy.

About the Book

Sociologist 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 income 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.

About the Author

photo of Matthew DesmondMatthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and codirector of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he is the author of the award-winning book, On the Fireline, coauthor of two books on race, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York TimesThe New Yorker and Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant.