Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown) reads like a novel, but in fact portrays eight real Milwaukee families who move in and out of bottom-of-the-barrel rentals from 2008 to 2009.
Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, the author and a 2015 MacArthur Genius Grant winner, grew up in similar poverty in Arizona before earning a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He moved into a trailer park and later a North Side boarding house to research the book, and in doing so became an ally and an advocate for the renters he profiles.
Although it serves as a plea for a universal housing voucher program, Evicted also introduces us to Sherrena, a pseudonymous landlord who snaps up North Side properties with her handyman husband. In Sherrena’s mind, she’s carving out a life and giving back to Milwaukee’s poorest pockets, but it’s clear the other families in the book remain unconvinced.