tv Book Discussion on Evicted CSPAN July 27, 2016 1:20am-2:25am EDT
said i could take it. i have to get out of there because it was indoctrination. she chose not just to go to another school but to leave east germany. we have to understand if somebody says to me i had my kids in a public school and they said tomorrow we are going to teach third-graders about how they can choose their own sexuality, some parents needs to contact them and say here is what we are going to do. we are going to keep our kids home until the maniacs stop teaching things we don't want them to teach. you have to be willing to keep your kid home. the montgomery bus boycott for a year african americans didn't like the buses because they say that's wrong. if some people think that they
can bring the way they think to bear on our kids, see here is the thing. we are so nice we don't get angry. my kid isn't going to go to school, what are you going to do it's not norway yet. i really think that people have to get involved. we have to be involved in these things and willing to make a fuss because the things they simply don't have this right. if we allow them to do i if we have ourselves to blame. if somebody is doing that to your kids at some point you have to act.
we have time for publicly just one more question. >> i appreciate the way that you contrasted this belief with the virtue that was present at the time. benjamin franklin is kind of a genius hedonist and not all the founders were absolute saints. what has been the virtue that has been kind of walked away from? >> a pitcher goes oif each recoe 20s and 30s. the schools already turned this into 30s basically. europe turned the corner as a
result of world war i that they had seen the church and state was them down and they turned against those authorities and i think the same thing happened with the confidence lost their authority to begin with but i don't think it reached us when it became codified and part of the way that we function so it's not something you can put your finger on something that media tends to be uncomfortably secular where you don't have that kind of a free-market updating in the media. the media is typically people that are secular.
they don't get that. so they speak a different kind of language. and i think that, you know, the market always corrects itself, but it doesn't necessarily do it the right way. we had 70 years of soviet communism before that wall fell down. so these things can last a long time and i would say for about 50 or so users we have this hollywood basically created antiheroes kosovo before that i mentioned mr. smith goes to washington. suddenly they were seen as corny or something like that. so it's part of the culture. the ivy league where i went to school. it's part of the way that people begin to see things and that's the clubs you belong to help people think. and i really think that the gatekeeper and people in media and the teachers unions and politics basically are the
ideologues. over time it is effecting america. so i think that we are at a tipping point. we are very close to the edge. so, for me there is hope that i see this with the level of desperation as well. we must take this seriously. this isn't something that can go on. so there you have it. thank you so much for coming. [applause] thank you. i appreciate that. let me say what we are going to do is let the party continue. and you can hang around as long as you want. i will be signing books as long as there are people that want books signed. i'm happy to do that, just to hang out. please do tell your friends about socrates in the city.
washington, d.c.. this is an hour. >> i am so pleased to welcome matthew this evening to discuss his important new book which iss out and already generating a much-needed conversation about poverty in america and the role that eviction plays in creating a downward spiral on the already economic downward edge of the facts of which hit women and children the hardest. to research this book he endorsed himself in the poorest committees in milwaukee and with such depth if sometimes reads like a novel. the reviews have been outstanding in on comparison behind another powerful work of poverty. they've called this and above
all book adding that it will no longer be possible to have a serious discussion about poverty without having a serious discussion about housing. he is the author of several books including on the fire line which he chronicles the fire crew in northern arizona. he's the associate professor of sciences at harvard and he is the codirector of justice antipoverty projects. please help me welcome matthew desmond. [applause] you get the nice chair. it's such an honor to be here.
thank you everyone for coming out. so good to see people i love in the audience and friend. i really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to hear me this evening. there are two chairs. this book is based on fieldwork i started in milwaukee wisconsin in 2008 and when i was living in the neighborhoods. from their landlords during the evicted we moved into a trailer
park i lived there about five months and then in a rooming house in the traditionally african-american poor neighborhood of milwaukee from nine or ten months and the neighborhoods kind of embedded myself in the lives of folks facing extremely hard situatio situations. i try to sink myself as deeply as i could into their everyday lives but i knew that if i was going to understand this connection between housing and poverty i had to get their perspective. i spent time with them as well and watch them buy and sell property. when this was happening i was coming up against questions like
who does it have been to, what are the long-term consequences of the problem. we are looking for studies that would help answer. no good data that would allow me to get my handle on that so i decided to get the data myself. i analyzed hundreds of thousands of records and 911 calls to put that information in concert with what i was seeing on the ground. i think all of those methods informed my perspective and kept the other honest. this shows a family swept up. some of them are white for some of them are black, some have children, some don't. chlorine is a grandmother that had to decide between paying her rent or gas bill so she could take off showers. we have a gregarious role model
in that neighborhood a disabled single bad who tried to work off the rent. we have a mother of three kids who never had a criminal record or a working job but she was desperate to keep her family house to hopefully get the money to pay the landlord. i can't tell you about all these stories today i will tell you about one. it had been a difficult year. the 14-year-old had been tossing snowballs at passing cars. this man jumped out and his cousin ran inside and locked the door. the man broke the door down and then thankfully left before anything else happened. but with the landlord found out about that, she evicted them for
damaging property. so she took her two sons, the oldest was for teen and the youngest was sick as, to be salvation army. she started looking for a house on ninth street. there was no water and they had to bucket out what was in the toilet. it has a really bad affect on kids health. they boarded up the windows and they were on the hon for another place to live.
they are taking whatever they can get. she moved in but learned it was a haven for drug dealers and was terrified for her boys who had a beautiful smile and would talk to anyone. hungry to prove himself a just like he did with doctor snowball. so it was important for how she ended up in such a tough neighborhood. we tested it out with statistical data and from dangerous neighborhoods to even more dangerous ones. she moved out as fast as she could when she found a two bedroom duplex on 13th street. there is a hole in the window and the door had to be locked with a wooden plank. but she put on a good face. she stuffed a piece of cloth
into the window and honda iav turton. in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city in america it was $550. which would take 88% of the welfare check. just 88% at the beginning of every month, gone. she's not alone in spending the majority of what she has on housing. wwe've reached the point in this country where most low income renters are paying most of what they have on housing talks and the renting families are spending at least 70% of their income to pay rent and keep the lights on. under these conditions, eviction isn't always the result of personal irresponsibility that inevitability. in 200 2000 it soared while the incomes at the bottom were stagnant. and i think many of us that
don't live in trailer parks still think the typical low income family benefits for public housing or some other kind of housing assistance, but the opposite is true. it would be unthinkable that the other social services meet basic needs, so i can imagine if we turned away three out of four families i'm sorry, you have to go hungry. that's okay, that's exactly how we treat them in this country. the waiting list isn't counted in years but in decades. so if you are a single parent applying for public housing today, you might be a grandparent by the time your application comes up. most are getting nothing from the governmen government into lm insisted in the market. so 13th street, she found paint
and brushes anpaintsand brushest on a fresh coat but not long after she moved in, her sister died in the biological and spiritual sense. she decided to contribute something. she didn't have the money but no one else did either. the next month she missed an appointment with her welfare worker because announcing the appointment maybe it was atkinson avenue. they type something into the computer with a welfare check that was cut and sanctioned and two months behind she got the paper. milwaukee is a city of 105,000 households. in a city there are roughly 16,000 people every year. that's about 40 people a day evicted in the city.
now these numbers up on the screen are court-ordered evictions. these are legal records but there are other ways, cheaper and quicker ways to displace a family. i met one that would pay $200 let you use his vanity were out by sunday. i met another that will take your door off. we worked really hard to capture all those things. the evictions that do, landlord for closures and building what happened to her favorite place. one of eight renters in the city is evicted. and the american housing survey renters and over 2.8 million
households in the united states fought that they would be evicted soon. >> we see roe after row of mothers and kids and low income african american moms like arlene are evicted one in five women report being evicted sometime in their life. it's a startling number in the way that i've come to think about it. if incarceration has become a typical critical experience with low income than it is to equal the length shaping the lives.
it affects communities and its something that is going on over the country. all over the country. one in five of all regardless of their income report paying 50%. they gave two extra days to stay at home for her dependent kids. the women have been -- they said the temperature could bottom out at 40 below but if they call the sheriff who would arrive and pile all her things on the sidewalk, don't be afraid to
discipline and so she took her boys and left and begin searching for housing. then 40 and 60 and 80. in the city most were out of reach and the landlord's places she could afford were not calling back either and part of that reason had to do with her eviction record. from milwaukee its published online for free for anyone to see and many of them reject anyone with a record. that's why the families are pushed into the neighborhoods and worse housing. now finally, number 96 yes.
he had a one-bedroom apartment and didn't consider the neighborhood of the conditions in place. a house is a house. so, two months after the court hearing she moved into her new place and they brought the things up and all the cupboards had handles it al and all the ls have pictures. it was nice. once everything was inside, she sat down on the floor and found a garbage bag that had towels and clothing and she leaned against it and they came and sat down next to her. he came and laid his head on her lap and they stayed like that for a long time. she liked things need so she put a sign over the sink that said if you don't clean up after yourself, we are going to have problems.
but soon she started acting out in school. it's hard to be 14 index. long stretches of homelessness. one day a teacher snapped at him and he kicked her in the shins and ran home. instead of calling the principal, she called the police. when they followed him home and the landlord found out about that, he told arlene she had to go. she told me after that it's like i have a curse on me. sometimes i find my body trembling or shaking. i'm fixing to have a nervous breakdown. recently published a study that found mothers who were evicted experienced high rates of
depression two months after the event. we know between 2005 and 2010 rent in the country was coming up, suicide attributed to the foreclosure doubled. my soul was messed up, she told me. i wish my life were different. i wish that as an older lady i could sit back and look at my kid and they would be grown and become something and we could all be together and laughing and remembering stuff like this. the home is a center of life. it's our refuge from work. it's our protection from the menace of the street. we see we can be ourselves.
at home we take off our masks. languages spoken all over the world. it encompasses warmth, safety, but eviction which used to be rare and draw crowds isn't just a condition of poverty is the cause. we can't fix poverty in this country unless we fix housing. so what should we do about it? i think the way to answer that question requires us to address another which is do we believe that housing is a fundamental right? do we believe that part of what it means to be an american is to have access to safe and decent housing. we have affirmed the right to a
basic education provision and old age, basic nutrition because we have agreed as a society that those things are fundamental to human floor rushing and it is hard to argue housing isn't fundamental to human floor rushing without a stable shelter everything else falls apart and i think the way that we can deliver on this obligation is the universal voucher program. we can take a program that we already have that serving low income families and we can expand it so that it meets the needs of all families living below the poverty line. if you have a voucher instead of paying 88%, 70% of your income direct you pay 30% with a voucher covering the rest of you can live wherever you like if it isn't too expensive for shoddy. it would change the face of poverty in the country.
evictions would become rare, homelessness would drop when families receive the housing vouchers after years and years on the waiting list they would do one consistent thing with the income. they would go to the grocery store and buy more food. their children become stronger and less anemic. but a lot of kids today are not going to eat because the rent is first. national affordable housing programs could change that. it could be a human capital investment plan and public health initiative all rolled into one. this is one of many potential policy recommendations that can be thrown at this problem. what works in washington, d.c. may not work in milwaukee or san francisco or dallas. one story has to build and
another has to tear down but out of the mass one thing is clear. this endorsement and degree of inequality this event us. i know american value it is not justified we can't find the teaching or scripture to be summoned to defend what we have allowed the nation to become. thanks for coming. [applause] >> before we go to the questions, there is a car in the handicapped spot that has its lights on. >> is this turned on? there were $180 billion of tax
expenditures for deductions and like most of the people in the room could have mortgages to deduct the interest and real estate taxes and when they sell their house to get a break on the capital gains. >> we already have a universal housing program in this country it's just not for the poor. and i think that for many middle-class americans it is a disability something they bargained for as a bit of the deal but we need to be honest about this fact that the majority of the tax dollars at least with respect to housing are going to homes with six-figure incomes.
why you chose this for your study. >> i love milwaukee. there's something about this city. i think the story of urban america tends to be written on the margins. we spend a lot of time focusing on our biggest successes. maybe we can consider it our biggest failure is unlike detroit. if you want to write a story about the shop representing cleveland and cincinnati, milwaukee gives you a good shot at this. it tells a very american story.
two questions, one about homelessness, they are often depicted as exploitative and sympathetic. can you humanize them a little bit. are they also rational human beings making rational decisions in the system or can we characterize them as enemies in the site and then the second question, what do you think iconography brings to the policy recommendation that the analysis doesn't? >> the book works hard to complicated relationship between landlords and tenants. we let ourselves off the hook.
if we just say they are irresponsible or they are just greedy it is more complicated tn that. when she moved in she noticed the kids didn't have any food she went to the grocery store and bought food. she has allowed the tenets to slip on rent. how many of us would lose and just be okay with that? they do take that hit directly. she had the tenets stuff socks down the sink. there's stuff that happens. when i lived in a trailer park republican was important to understand how much my landlord was making so i analyzed and looked at missing payments, tax
payments, electricity bill, waterville. i could go on and on. i'm telling you this so you believe the when i say the landlord of the worst trailer park in the country that made up of 131 trailers took over $470,000 in profits after expenses every year that is after working minimum wage to come and there were 50 times the tenets on disability. are we okay with that? is that something we should tolerate? your second question was about iconography which was a question about how to tell people stories which of the humawere show the e social problems, how does that connect reforming and reform is
deeply connected to reform. getting out of the way of the story. and allowing people to kind of come through in the document as i can and the decisions that she's forced to mak make and tht the effect that it has on her parenting and how this is dwindling her capacity and talent and reducing this person that's born for better things i think that is deeply connected to policy reform and we see this in generation after generation who changed the walls in new york city. this book is very much in the spirit and tradition of the. >> i wondered if you could talk about how this is disproportionately affecting black women. >> that is a good question. one thing we are seeing here is
the ongoing prevalence of racial discrimination. and i can -- in the housing market, i can quote study after study but let me tell you one story. i was with two african-american women and they were both homeless and looking for housing and they lived on the near south side of milwaukee that is a traditionally latino neighborhood. they were in a place and i was in the car watching the kids and for him what the woman told the right afterward is after the landlord came in and showed the places, she has three young kid and anyone that has young kids, you know. she said you have another place and she said yes, the rent is the same and then he just stopped himself and said what did you know.
so i wrote down the number and called them the next day and told them i needed the same and that i had three kids. you have any place great time fe and they drove me to it. this happens a lot and it's why she's looking at 20, 40, 60, 80 places. that is a real thing. the other thing we have to recognize is the role of ted. when i started this work i thought they would shield the peoplwould've shieldedpeople ofs people. you see this about the snowball and also about school. we surveyed 250 tenets.
the household income in all sorts of things that are relevant to the question. what really matters is who you lived with tapes or not. what you're seeing is a landowner saying i would rather work with youth in you. so, i think that the question you asked, there's two pieces to it and there's obviously a lot more to be said. >> if there are any others that have influenced you i read her book and it made me think a little bit about it and that there is no statistical analys analysis. >> dot tradition of people,
people write about poverty from the ground level had a deep mark on me. i see myself operating in that tradition and physiology has a long established iconography and since we are in washington, d.c. it's about african-american men in this city which is a slim incredibly observationally burly and iconography. >> this brings out the brutali brutality. when you walk by the site what
you see is not just somebody's belongings but their life. your photograph of the belongings raise a practical question but nonetheless, a question because what is on the street isn't just furniture, its baby pictures, mementos etc. that will never be recovered because by the time the person gets back, they are all destroyed or gone. there was a tie-in here in the city when they would pick up belongings and store them. one thing i didn't realize going into it often you lose the trust
your home but your things and possessions. you are given two options. things get thrown on the sidewalk and you get taken by the eviction movers and you have to pay basically $375 to get it back then it goes back after that. it's a business. i think a lot of time with moving companies, the owners told me 70% of the moves they do get thrown in the dump. so yes, it is a racing possession. >> thank you. i'm from no walkie also and i appreciate this book. i know a lot of the neighborhoods you're talking about.
i just want to know if you can talk a little about what the impact was on the kids and their schooling for the kids that were evicted across the trailer homes and -- >> this is leaving a scar on the next generation. and when arlene was living in thahomeless shelter outside of town, 17 consecutive days absent from school the reason is it wasn't seen as the higher needs. when she found the home and invest it in schools, there was this crisis that would emerge again and again. we are not going to be able to allow kids to reach their full potential if we keep batting
them around because their mom doesn't have enough food to last the end of the month because so much is spent on housing. we need a lot more research on this but it's obvious to me that this is fundamental for improving the inner-city education. i just want to ask two quick questions. you chose to speak to us through stories and pictures and i'm curious if you've approached others for lifting them up in other venues. i'm not sure if it was exhibitions or through a tour. the other question, what are we going to do about it. is there anyone taking that up, it is a political season. >> to the first question, my
wife and i started this organization called just shelter, you can go to the website just shelter.org. >> this wasn't a setup. >> we didn't talk earlier but i always look for a way to work again. [laughter] it in. [laughter] this organization does two things. it highlights and emphasizes the role they are playing all over the country and a lot of the work for affordable housing is brought on neighborhood by neighborhood. so if you are brought in from pc or the bethesda you can click on the map and see the organizations in plug-in and get involved. but what we are also doing is allowing people to to thei tellr own story. most of the time covering the press, i get often letters from folks but this is my story, this is what i've been through. i got more of those and we have to broadcast that. if any of you in the room have
experienced for closure and want to tell your story you can upload it and contribute to the cost of the crisis. that's one thing that we are doing to scale up so to speak. so, policymakers when confronted with the fact that this country has more and worse poverty than any other democracy respond by saying jobs. paul ryan wants to incentivize work and hillary clinton wants to raise wages. that is half the solution. we also need to recognize that poverty is not just a product of voting but also of extractive markets. when incomes rise the market takes a cut and i think that we need to kind of address this from multiple angles but without solving and addressing this
crisis, any other poverty solution is going to fall flat. >> it was amazing what you laid out. it just staggers me. but what i wanted to ask, you went to a certain level with the people that you interviewed and looked at. did you think of moving on to the next level of politicians like members of the council, members of the state legislature and further up because i see them as being able to influence and affect policy only if this kind of information is really
pushed into their faces, excuse me for using that expression. i really think there are no easy answers to this. i'm sure that you are well aware of that. but what methods can be used to make the population aware because in these elections now and all the nonsense that's been talked about i don't hear the word poverty mentioned very much, and i don't believe now and the time a leader is elected that we are going to hear it. >> one thing i'm doing is writing the book and having conversations like this. i think that i'm a bit more hopeful. we are having a conversation
today about inequality. that's going on in that both sides of the aisle. we can see people of various political persuasions. i am encouraged that we have reached the point that we are very unsettled by the level of inequality today. but with housing there's a lot of reasons to be optimistic. think of several generations ago we had for folks without heat and running water and we took on the slums and won that battle. i am not naïve about how much further we need to go in housing problems. when i lived in a trailer park most of the time i didn't have hot water and i told my landlord i'm a writer and i'm going to write about you. so imagine what my neighbors had to deal with but there is no denying that we made a huge leap forward and now we are just facing this other problem which is the fact that it's getting
harder and harder to move forward without a roof over your head. are there things we can do on the local level an and smaller interventions? absolutely, yes. one important thing we can do what i think is to extend legal help to the families that are facing eviction. so unlike criminal court court,y have no right to a lawyer and a civil court. in many around the country 90% of tenets don't have lawyers and 90% of landlords to. so if you think of someone who doesn't have a high school education, she has to go to housing court and face a lawyer would you go, i don't know if i would go into a lot of folks don't go. so in milwaukee, 70% of cases that are summoned to court and no one shows up, it now has a name and a stamp signaling default eviction. we can change that on the local level and provide legal assistance and make an
investment upstream to stem the tide and the consequences of the cost of the reap so that is one powerful thing we can do on the local level. >> what i meant to ask is when you approach -- when you approached more high level politicians such as what to say members of the maryland legislature, how were they responsive, did they say they have other more important issues to deal with? >> we didn't know the extent of this problem. i don't think that we knew how many people were getting evicted or that it was directly causing poverty. so i think that there's still a lot we have to learn, and i think this message about the pae centrality of housing is still working its way to folks in
legislatures. thank you very much. >> we will have time for everyone and then after that we will have to wind down. >> i also am from milwaukee. [laughter] this is so cool. i was a task organizer in river west. but since then, i live here and go back every two years in october before the election. ..
>> >> every year i go back nobody knows where they are they are boarded up this is how you end up with scott walker this is how a state with progressive is a right wing battleground and just wondered if you could speak to that are those political consequences of what i see of the destruction of the community. >> some neighborhoods in
milwaukee have an extremely high even action rate which so how do we build a community? and how do we allow people to invest in their community? i think you're absolutely right with those political consequences it is also the fact that these neighborhoods have been neglected for decades there is no lot of suffering with a concentrated amount when you see your own neighbors paid because you try to make ends meet it is harder to see the political potential. you are right about milwaukee. they lost more jobs during the great depression.
but i just want to say what this book is about but brilliance and generosity and courage in the fur -- face of a diversity. we were at the salvation army homeless shelter in real eating lunch at this mcdonald's then the boy walks in and maybe he was nine years old he had dirty clothes. he did not go up to order but went to the tables looking for scraps. so kristol said what do you got? so these two homeless women pooled their money and went
up to the boy buy him lunch in christo gave him a hug and sent him on his way. when he left she said i wish i had me a whole one would take him. as a you see that is the story is that we love. that reminded me how gracefully people like crystal refuse to be reduced to their hardships. >> but one final comment those that are required to have the picture identification that this willie be impossible and we will see the consequences how could you have the authorize governmental id? >> i am not from milwaukee.
[laughter] next. i'd like 2.you back because it's being given is interesting of the policy pressure to change the way they're viewing those communities and one to ask more about humanizing those that our impoverished that always worried about poverty and the end there has the history of those males that continually go to the inner-city is. to have somewhat perpetuated and reproduce the norms so i was wondering personally i you have wrestled with lifting up while continuing
to humanize those. >> a think the ethnographers has the duty with its full complexity with the ability to do so that means about human suffering in in human courage mistakes people make but moments of beautiful generosity in to i took the story is extremely seriously the responsibility for me was one of the deepest and profound honors of my life. so i think putting in the
book i was with the kingston family it was february gas me to go into the basement i know what i am doing. you just kick kidder something. [laughter] then i came back up and there was a birthday cake. that is in the book. i been writing about people's lives in the way the awful trauma and sadness but also to validate and recognized said udc and complexity as well.
we stayed in close contact with those in the book so every part of the book i went over with them some people read it to me we had long conversations that was extremely important to me also to make sure that i get the essence right. >> i am a washingtonian i want to congratulate you encourage you that element of what you have presented is you have highlighted the eviction as a powerful symbol to embrace the whole issue of affordable housing. i have been working on this for a long time from
downtown washington where we are located i'd like you to encourage you to identify to use the dictionary is a powerful story to have a major hearing on affordable housing is just incredible. that is the main thing i want to say. >> i just want to encourage you to put the idea out there of whoever i confined
i just see this as such a powerful tool to be a high profile story i will do everything i can to rally support their needs to be legislation from these individuals have indicated. >> i accept that. thank you so much. >> you understand that is partly because they are poor but who becomes a landlord in this? to they decided want to own a trailer park?
what is their story where do they come from? >> many years second or third or fourth generation traditionally that is the way for immigrants to get a foothold with middle-class america so there are these things called polish flats that is one way they earn some extra money so that has been passed down now the other landlord was the second generation but i think they share that quality the idea that they could strike out that nothing they also have to
have the other thing which is to have the stomach for it. it can be difficult work. >> i showed up well little late forgive me if this is covered bed i am from washington d.c. i have covered housing issues and one of the group said does housing work is the legal foundation for the homeless so if you donate money to them day fight the landlord tenant court on homeless issues and homeless shelters and they slept in the abandoned hospital floor in trash cans or to be sexually harassed relive and a very rich place but the fancy gentrified 14th street and
missouri we should remember that. of a housing developed because it does seem and section 8 was the unstable way to give people housing and went to your take on the vouchers. >> we could have a 50 minute talk of the policy but for tonight i just want to come back to scale. in many cities there are amazing things going space