Matthew Desmond, a Harvard assistant professor who studies poverty, housing and eviction, found that 1 in 14 black residents in Milwaukee renting households is evicted each year. The proportion does not include the number of families whose lives are disrupted by involuntary displacement.
Many who are evicted end up in shelters or even on the street. When they do find housing, a record of eviction often means they are limited to decrepit units in unsafe neighborhoods. This transient existence is known to affect children’s emotional well-being and their performance in school; Desmond and his research team are also beginning to link eviction to a host of negative consequences for adults, including depression and subsequent job loss, material hardship, and future residential instability.
Desmond cites a lack of affordable housing for people of color as the primary reason for high eviction rates in communities.
He collected survey data from more than one thousand Milwaukee renters in hopes of capturing all involuntary displacements. He found that the most recent move for black renters was one in seven, and one in four for Hispanic renters was an eviction or other involuntary relocation.
As a result, eviction compounds the effects of both poverty and racial discrimination. The research argues that eviction is not only a cause of poverty, but a condition that affects poverty in low-income neighborhoods.
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