“Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. They used to draw crowds. Eviction riots erupted during the Depression, even though the number of poor families who faced eviction each year was a fraction of what it is today…
…These days, there are sheriff squads whose full-time job is to carry out eviction and foreclosure orders…Low-income families have grown used to the rumble of moving trucks, the early-morning knocks at the door, the belongings lining the curb.
… Fewer and fewer families can afford a roof over their head. This is among the most urgent and pressing issues facing America today, and acknowledging the breadth and depth of the problem changes the way we look at poverty.”
– “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”
Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted” follows the lives of eight families in Milwaukee as they experience eviction. These eight families, unfortunately, are just a few of the thousands of individuals and children removed from their homes each year. And evictions don’t just occur in the cities with the highest rate of poverty. Individuals and families are being forced out of their homes right in our own community.
Join us over the next two months as we invite residents, community leaders and policymakers to discuss Matthew Desmond’s research and explore housing affordability in the Twin Cities.
First we’d like to share with you Lisa’s story of losing and finding home.
At 33 years old, I was a single mother of two children. I was raised in an upper middle class, hardworking family, so working a full-time job to provide for my family was important to me. I had a job at a large health insurance company, but it wasn’t enough to afford nice housing for my children. Fortunately, I was able to get a Section 8 voucher that allowed my family to move into a beautiful two-bedroom home. Life was super busy while I was juggling work and shuffling my kids off to various activities, but it was also really good.
My life took a turn just a year later, after experiencing complications from a surgery.
I was in and out of the hospital, I lost my job and pretty soon my mental health started deteriorating. While I was fighting for my health, simple things like keeping up my home became unmanageable, and I started to fail the annual Section 8 inspections.
After being evicted from my home and getting kicked off of the Section 8 program, I struggled for years to find stable housing. My kids moved in with my parents and I hopped from place to place. For a while I rented a condo until it was foreclosed. I then moved into my friend’s basement, which was infested with mice and quickly became unbearable.
It wasn’t until my social worker told me about Aeon that I was able to find some stability. A lot of landlords wouldn’t give me a chance based on my very short history of being a “less-than-ideal” tenant, but Aeon accepted my rental history and allowed me to move into one of their affordable homes. I was ecstatic.
Having a home was crucial for me to pick up the pieces of my life, but so many others don’t get that chance. It’s time we rethink the system, and how we can do better to help people find stability.