Poverty and Profit in the American City

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur (3z(BGenius(3y (BMatthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads.
Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780553447439
Branch Call Number: 339.460973 Desmond
Characteristics: x, 418 pages ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

Andrew Carnegie Winner 2017, Nonfiction.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2017, General Nonfiction.

CMLibrary_sdeason Oct 04, 2017

Best nonfiction book this year. It compels you to appreciate the circumstances of other's lives.

Desmond explores evictions as part of a larger conversation about poverty. A heartbreaking look at how evictions add to the struggles of people already barely getting by.

Examine American wealth inequality by reading stories of families in extreme poverty, and understand the issues surrounding affordable housing.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Hillsboro_ElizabethH Jun 03, 2019

I read this book on the recommendation from the Library Director, and it is wonderful! It really sheds light on the housing crisis in America (who can afford rent these days, anyway?), and gives a voice to those who cannot afford it.

Since housing is a basic human right, how can we do this to those who need it the most, and how can they live in the deplorable situations they're forced to live in?

Apr 21, 2019

🏘️📚🌧 Housing is a basic human need. It irrevocably shapes our lives and our destinies. It also can be a lucrative and, at times, cruel and devastating business. This landmark nonfiction work tells eight stories of families who were swept up in the process of eviction. Along the way, the book sheds new light on the myriad social currents, large and small, that have brought American society to the brink of an alarming housing crisis. The people whose stories are told within— tenants and landlords alike— are expertly brought to life though the author’s masterfully descriptive and empathetic writing. I was completely engrossed in this astonishing book. The stories it tells seem so familiar yet they reveal something new about who we are as a society; about power, privilege, and the meaning of home. 📖

IndyPL_LoriO Mar 27, 2019

This heartbreaking and hard to put down book is an eye-opening look into the affordable housing crisis affecting so many lives today. I particularly enjoyed the author’s ability to tell the stories of his subjects without making himself a character. He acknowledges that there is no simple solution to the lack of affordable housing, but does offer an afterward with some solutions, including expanding the voucher system. Highly recommended.

Feb 23, 2019

I found this book both enlightening and frustrating. Blending respectable authorial skills with awesome first-hand observation data, Desmond exposes the raw and painful lives of Milwaukee residents who can barely afford their rent. These people need help but don’t get it from family, friends, or social services. Every failure sets them up for the next one. The detailed analysis moved me like a well-developed novel does. So, I was more than a little frustrated by the conclusion he draws from it: that a universal voucher system is the cure-all. That money would be better spent reforming the system, making it possible for social workers to coach renters on their lifestyle/habits and getting better rules for the landlords to adopt on pain of prosecution.

Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2017

elijahschenk Dec 20, 2018

The hardest part about reading Evicted was coming to the realization that, more often than not, both sides, tenants and landlords, are only doing what is best for themselves financially, socially, or emotionally. In each of the followed characters’ story arcs, there is solid logic behind most of their actions, even if the action (i.e. an eviction of a family with children) seems so heartless with all the visibility and drama that accompanies it, or seems unwise (i.e. buying up lobster with the whole month’s allotment of food stamps). I think Desmond’s focus on the logic behind every person’s decisions prompts the reader to question the overarching systems keeping things difficult and unequal for people seeking safe, affordable housing. I like how he frames a safe place to live as a right rather than a privilege or something to be earned. The overarching problems hurting families and communities include racism, lack of built housing in many locations, generational cycles of poverty, and our government’s decision not to offer universal housing vouchers to all who would qualify for them. Evicted makes it clear that these sorts of issues are the ones we need to tackle in America, before blaming individual landlords for just thinking about their bottom line, or blaming tenants for an apparent lack of personal responsibility. I appreciate how Desmond offers tangible solutions in his epilogue, instead of leaving off in a totally depressing way; I always like when books are able to do that.

Dec 04, 2018

Honest and raw, Desmond holds nothing back looking at both sides of a the housing crisis. I greatly enjoyed this read. It compliments nicely with Just Mercy.

Oct 16, 2018

The reporting is almost as amazing as the findings. Eye-opening if this is not your life.

SPPL_ReadBrave Aug 28, 2018

Evicted by Matthew Desmond is the 2019 Read Brave nonfiction selection. A 2017 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, it follows eight Milwaukee families struggling to pay their rent around the 2008 financial crisis.

May 26, 2018

Powerful and compelling book. Sympathetic, but clear-eyed where it would be easy to devolve into sentimentality. The author shows how a series of poor decisions can leave people behind the proverbial eight ball, particularly in the area of stable housing. The negative effects cascade, but there is hope and opportunity. Well worth the time to read this book!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Apr 20, 2017

If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.

Apr 20, 2017

There are two freedoms at odds with each other: the freedom to profit from rents and the freedom to live in a safe and affordable home.


Add Age Suitability
Jul 24, 2018

lvccld_judi thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary
Apr 20, 2017

Between 2007 and 2009, the American housing market was shaken by the subprime mortgage crisis, in which banks foreclosed on millions of homeowners who could not keep up with their rapidly inflating mortgage payments. But another group of people is deeply affected by the trauma of displacement on a more regular basis: the renting poor. Many of these families are spending between fifty and seventy percent of their monthly income on housing, and even a small crisis can easily cause them to fall behind on the rent, making them subject to eviction. Sociologist Matthew Desmond takes the reader into two of Milwaukee’s poorest neighbourhoods, one predominantly white, the other mostly black, and spends eighteen months examining what happens when landlords evict those who have fallen behind on the rent.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at my library

To Top