The Eviction Epidemic


Matthew Desmond

What is it like to be evicted? “It starts on the ground, and ends on the ground.” said Matthew Desmond during his speech on the complex topics of poverty and profit in American society Thursday, Oct. 19 in Schofield Auditorium to a crowd of about 600. 

By, Kelsey Lorraine Smith

Professor, author and codirector of the Justice and Poverty Project Matthew Desmond gave a speech on the complex topics of poverty and profit in American society Thursday, Oct. 19 in Schofield Auditorium to a crowd of about 600. His remarks touched on how eviction rates are increasing in the U.S. and specifically how Arleen Beale’s latest eviction began with a snowball fight.

When Arleen was evicted from her apartment on Arthur Avenue, she was receiving a stipend from Wisconsin Works, a family-aid program—a reduced amount, because she wasn’t working.

In addition to sharing Beale’s story, Desmond said he tried to put himself in the shoes of these people in America to get a better understanding of what living in poverty is like. Desmond went on to say that he lived in a trailer park on the southside of Milwaukee.

“Poverty starts on the ground, and ends on the ground.” said Desmond

Desmond moved to Milwaukee to live among the poorest people in one of the world’s richest countries. First, he lived in a mainly white trailer park and then, until the end of 2009, in a rooming house in the black north side. Desmond documented the obstacles poor people had in keeping a safe foundation around them.

Troubled by poverty, strangers become roommates to endure then divide just as quickly when arrangements become indefensible. Desmond said these relationships are often made difficult by the presence of landlords who make significant wages on inner city properties.

Audience Members

Audience members stay moments after Matthew Desmond’s speech on poverty in the American city for an open Q and A Thursday, Oct. 19 in Schofield Auditorium.

went on to say that individuals in poverty are trapped because they are already at the bottom and can’t get cheaper housing unless they relocate their lives, quit their jobs and leave the city. Those with eviction records are pushed into substandard private housing in high-crime neighborhoods because many landlords and public housing authorities turn them away.

When families finally find a new place to rent, they start off owing their landlord because they can’t pay the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit.

“Some spend 70 percent of their income in housing” said Desmond.

Desmond went on to say that the National Housing Act of 1937 believed that families should spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Until recently, most renting households in the United States have met this goal.

“Utility costs have jumped as well. Since 2000, the cost of fuels and utilities has risen by over 53 percent, owing to increasing global demand and the expiration of price caps.” said Desmond

“Desmond has to be repeated in every single city. We as a nation really don’t care about poor people.” said Cathy Sultan of Eau Claire

715-839-9298 (Cathy Sultan)

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Owen Park of Eau Claire

This gallery contains 10 photos.

By Kiersten Clifford Owen Park is a staple for any outdoor lover in Eau Claire. Though not as frequently visited as it’s bigger neighbor Phoenix Park it still has a lot of offer. There is many things to do for … Continue reading

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Award-winning researcher finds evictions fuel poverty in U.S.


2017 Pulitzer Prize winning author and Princeton University professor Matthew Desmond signs a copy of his book “Evicted” after speaking on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus about poverty and eviction. © 2017 Rachel Schmidt

By Rachel Schmidt

America is the richest democracy with the worst poverty and one in four Americans spend 70 percent of their income on housing, said an urban sociologist and 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner who is working to end poverty.

“The home, it’s the center of life,” said Matthew Desmond, an author and a professor of sociology at Princeton University.

Desmond spoke to a sold out crowd of nearly 600 community members, faculty, staff and students in Schofield Auditorium on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Thursday night about his book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”, and his experience with poverty.

Growing up, Desmond’s family was evicted. Ultimately, he said, it inspired him to follow eight families and two landlords in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through the eviction process, as well as their journeys after.

In a Q&A session with UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff Thursday afternoon before the forum, Desmond said he wanted to write a book about poverty that wasn’t about poor people. He found that he was able to do this by approaching the issue of poverty from an eviction standpoint because he believes that eviction is a cause of poverty, not just a condition.

During this session he told a story about one of the women named Larraine who was his neighbor in the trailer park where he did research for his book. He said that she went out and bought lobster with her food stamps, which shocked him at first. Eventually, he said, he came to the realization that this woman wasn’t poor because she lived like that, she lives like that because she was poor.

This was one of many anecdotes Desmond shared with everyone throughout the afternoon session and the evening forum.

Another point that Desmond touched on was the evolution of how society deals with those being evicted. A hundred years ago people would show up to defend their neighbors, but as for current times Desmond said “evictions have become so commonplace that there’s really no resistance.”

One way Desmond has responded to this disconnection is by creating Just Shelter. Just Shelter is an organization founded by Desmond and his wife to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing and to allow people to more easily find ways to get involved locally to end poverty.

“If poverty persists in America it’s not for a lack of resources,” Desmond said.

Roxanne Backowski, an electronic resources librarian at UW-Eau Claire, read “Evicted” for a book club and attended the forum.

“It’s really cool that he [Desmond] has a connection to Wisconsin,” said Backowski. “I would like to see how this can now make a change in Eau Claire.”

After Desmond received his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison he became the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard according to their website, and began teaching at Princeton University as of July 1, 2017.

During the forum he also discussed how eviction impacts the futures of those forced out and who is more likely to be evicted.

Desmond’s next stop will be Foss Center at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Oct. 21 at 7 pm.

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Evicted: Pulitzer winner discusses poverty and housing inequality


Princeton Professor of Sociology and Pulitzer winner, Matthew Desmond discussing his research on eviction and housing at UWEC. © 2017 Cole Edgell

By Cole Edgell

A Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Sociology at Princeton University discussed the topic of poverty and housing inequality in the United States last night at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I tried to put myself in the shoes of the individuals and families facing these problems,” said Matthew Desmond, the author of award-winning novel, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.’

In front of a sold-out crowd of 596 people in Schofield Hall, Desmond discussed his research and first-hand experience on eviction and how it affects poor individuals and families across the country, specifically in Milwaukee, WI.

Desmond focused his speech on a low-income family in Milwaukee. The mother, Arleen, and her two sons, Jori and Jafaris face regular eviction and live check-to-check to support themselves.

Arleen and her sons were forced to move regularly as result of their chronic evictions. Because formal evictions are recorded, it became difficult for Arleen to move into a safe location for her sons.

“An eviction can prevent you from moving into a safer area or into public housing,” Desmond said.

Although many evictions are formally documented, many evictions go undocumented, leaving the landlords with the opportunity to evict their tenants anyway they choose.

“Some are more forgiving and offer their truck and $200 dollars to vacate by the end of the week, while some landlords will shut off utilities or take the front door of the house or apartment off,” Desmond said.

Having a family can also affect your chances at finding a place to live after being evicted. Many landlords will decide not to offer their property to a tenant solely because of this reason.

“Family discrimination is illegal in the United States, but it’s a form of discrimination that not many people think about,” Desmond said.

About 30 percent of an individual’s income is a standard amount to pay a rent or mortgage, but impoverished families are regularly paying much higher than that. In the case of Arleen and her sons, Arleen paid 88 percent of her income to pay rent every month, leaving little funds to pay for clothes or food for her boys.

“Kids like Jori and Jafaris don’t eat, because rent eats first,” Desmond said.

Desmond also discussed the statistics of poverty and poverty assistance in the United States. Out of individuals who qualify for public housing and other related welfare programs, only 6 percent of those people receive public housing, about 20 percent receive some assistance for housing, and about 75 percent receive no federal help.

After presenting his research and experiences with Arleen’s family and a few others, Desmond went on to propose some solutions to dealing with eviction and the affect that it has on American families. He brought up the housing voucher program that assists people in finding public housing. The program has been shown to work for families by basing their rent off the 30 percent income standard, but the program only reaches a limited amount of families because of a lack of federal funding.

Desmond proposed that the funds acquired through homeowner incentive programs that directly benefit white middle- and upper-class Americans. Desmond believes that if those funds were allocated properly, they could work to end poverty and eviction in the United States.

“If poverty persisted, America, it’s not for lack of resources,” Desmond said to an applause from the crowd.

The hour long speech and question session seemed to have left the crowd of locals, students, and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff seemed to be interested in Desmond and his research.

“It was a powerful evening. UWEC is lucky to have the opportunity to have such a distinguished professor of sociology and Pulitzer Prize winning author come speak on campus,” Chancellor of UW-Eau Claire, James Schmidt said. “Desmond’s book was incredibly powerful. He broke down the problem of eviction and humanized it.”

Desmond said that poverty and eviction are synonymous with each other and it is crucial to be mindful of that when working on finding solutions to those problems.

“Eviction is a cause of poverty,” Desmond said. “We can’t fix poverty in America unless we fix housing.”

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Blugold Radio Grand Opening showcases Prince’s guitars

By Jenna Ambrosius

Blugold Radio celebrated the grand opening of its newly-built studio with a tribute concert to Prince.  The event featured a showcase of two of his guitars in the studio.

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Apple season in full swing at Ferguson’s Orchard in Eau Claire

By Clara Neupert

Caramel apples and tractor rides, trademark signs of the fall season, are nestled in Eau Claire hills at Ferguson’s Orchard.

Ferguson’s Orchard is a family farm that primarily harvests apples. A visitor can pick their own or buy them by the bag. For younger visitors — or those young at heart — the orchard offers a petting zoo, a rope swing, toy tractors and more.

The orchard is located at 6470 Balsam Road, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The orchard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Apple season ends Nov. 5.



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Job Shadow with Tina Hanley

Tina Hanley Beauty Manger at Sephora inside JCPenney
©2017 Kiersten Clifford

By Kiersten Clifford

Tina Hanley is the Beauty Manager at the Sephora inside JCPenney at the Oa

kwood Mall. She has been in the position for four months. Previously she had been the Senior Education Consultant (SEC) and the Operations Consultant (Ops) at the La Crosse location before transferring to Eau Claire for the Beauty Manager position.

While the Beauty Manager of Sephora is not a career in journalism, it is something that I could possibly see myself doing in the future. It is always good to have a backup plan.

The Beauty Manger is in charge of many aspects of the store. She is responsible for the scheduling, for the shipments of products that come in, for making sur

e that all associates are properly trained, and an extensive list of other things.

She is currently working on hiring temporary associates for the holiday season, a task that she is taking very seriously. She runs a small, but close-knit team and making sure that the new hires will fit in.

“Making sure that your team is blending well together is something that I didn’t really think of when I first started this job,” Hanley said. “I’m lucky to have a group of girls that are so close but it also makes it a little bit more challenging to hire people that will fit in.”

When I was sitting with Hanley she was explaining the application process to me, as well as the training that the new hires would have to complete before they could be on the floor.

She was also going over the scheduling something that she says is the most difficult part of the job. She showed me the application that she uses. Everyone has their own lives outside of work and making sure that they all can somehow fit into the times that she needs them is more work than she had been expecting.

Hanley also had me attend a meeting with her that she had with the hair salon manager. They talked about the best way to make sure that customers from the salon were shopping in Sephora and vice versa.

I learned a lot from my time with Hanley. The job is made up of a lot more than I would have realized and we didn’t even really get through all of what she does. We only made it through what she was needing to do that day.

While I don’t think that being the Beauty Manager of a Sephora inside JcPenney is my dream job it is a practical thing to think about. I love makeup and want to stay in the realm of it in my future career and if I have to start out as a Beauty Manager then at least I know now what the job entails.

Listen to Hanley talk about her daily life as beauty manger below.

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