2017 News

Matthew Desmond: Eviction leaves ‘deep and jagged scar’ on families

Many poor, renting families spend more than half of their income on housing, and eviction is more common than ever.

“When families are evicted, they move into much worse housing,” best-selling author Matthew Desmond told a capacity crowd in April at Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council’s annual fair housing conference. 

The conference, “Evicted: Poverty & Fair Housing in St. Louis,” drew more than 250 people to Washington University in St. Louis’ Brown School for Desmond’s keynote address and two panels: “St. Louis Eviction Stories” and “Solutions and Next Stops.”

A Harvard sociologist, Desmond is the author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” which takes readers into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the stories of eight families. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction a few days after the conference “for a deeply researched exposé that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty,” according to The Pulitzer Prizes’ website.

Evictions are a cause of poverty, “leaving a deep and jagged scar on the next generation,” Desmond said. “Their kids aren’t getting enough to eat. The rent eats first.”

Founded in 1992, the not-for-profit Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC) seeks to ensure equal access to housing and places of public accommodation for all people through education, counseling, investigation and enforcement.

The Center for Social Development was a co-sponsor of the conference.