Sociology essay sample: Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Instructions: In Evicted, Matthew Desmond makes the case that eviction is not simply an effect of poverty, but contributes to keeping people in poverty and even worsens their condition. Describe this argument in detail, and discuss the evidence he provides to support his case. Is this argument/evidence convincing?
1. Comprehension and analysis (60 points).
Is the paper answering the question actually asked in the assignment?
Does the paper summarize Desmond’s argument(s) accurately? Completely?
Does the paper support its description of Desmond’s argument with examples from the text?
3. Organization (20 points).
Does the paper have an introduction?
Does it have a conclusion?
Does the introduction make clear what the paper will do/say?
Does each paragraph have a coherent theme?
Does the paper ramble or wander within paragraphs?
4. Writing (20 points).
Does the paper contain run-on sentences or fragments?
Is it clear what this paper is saying?
Does the paper use informal voice, slang, or chatty/conversational tone?
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Poverty is one of the most heartbreaking issues American society has to deal with today since there are so many views and opinions on how and why people live in poverty and struggle so much to break through this phenomenon. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond transforms the understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing some real ideas on how to solve this problem for American society. The book goes beyond the theoretical approach and analyzes real-life examples in order to make his audience understand that home is that essential necessity everyone needs to succeed.
In Evicted, the author brings the rigorous sociological research and ethnography to Milwaukee’s inner city by following eight families, their struggle to have a home and the consequences they face while having difficulties to sustain their living needs. Poverty creates a vicious circle having the problem of being evicted as a central argument. Even if an average American has a chance to break this vicious circle of poverty, the only factor that holds them back is rent. Those who struggle through poverty are usually individuals who lack skills or education and have difficulties finding well-paid jobs. On top of that, there is another nation-wide standard that imposes that the rent should not be more than 30% of the income.
This causes two main problems for people who live in poverty. First of all, they have no access to rent normal housing because their income is too low to qualify for anything better than an old rustic condo or a trailer in a trailer park. Rent in the US is incredibly high and is rarely subsidized for those who live in poverty, therefore, for the majority of poor people the rent might end up being around 70% of their paychecks. This issue holds them back from saving any money and barely being able to afford the poor standards of living.
Desmond analyzes eight families in order to find a consistent pattern of how poverty and lack of decent housing impact the future of these families. Instead, Desmond suggests that the poverty of some people can be very profitable to other people by suggesting that lowering renting standards and willing to rent out worse conditioned housing to poor people at the end of the day make landlords richer. In order to rent a good home and get protected by a lease agreement, an individual should qualify in terms of their income and the base salary they make in order to prove their ability to pay rent. However, poor people not always have the best working conditions and contracts and, therefore, struggle to provide official papers in order to rent a good home with protective conditions. The alternative option for housing usually includes either housing with worse conditions, month-to-month, where a person can get evicted at any time or options like trailer parks, which do not require as rigorous documentation as the lease agreement. The low-income housing usually goes in worse shape, however, the price does not always correspond to the difference. This often results in a poor person paying more than half of their check for the worse apartment.
Another notion brought up by Desmond is that in many cases the main victims of eviction are women. This phenomenon is caused by the fact that women are paid less than men even for the same amount of work done. In addition, the majority of landlords are men and it gets very hard for women to negotiate the conditions of their rent. While for men it may be optional to offer some of the manual work onsite as a part of the rent, women often cannot offer such an option. In addition, in many cases women raise children as single mothers, making their burdens, even more, heavier as their cost of living is higher because they require bigger space and they have less time to work and, therefore, their money conditions are often not great.
When thinking about poverty and the conditions of living, American has the worst segregation in terms of districts and areas for rich people and poor people. This is often connected to the problem of racism and bias. Landlords will less likely offer a black individual a nice apartment in the white areas, which results that black people have worse housing in bad neighborhoods creating this horrific phenomenon as segregation. Desmond gives many examples of where black women are hit the worst with eviction problems. While living in not so nice neighborhoods, black men are often subject to get arrested and being locked up, which their wives lose any ability to pay rent and, as a result, get evicted.
The issues of poor housing and eviction are not so much economical as social and it puts tremendous stress on individuals and families, especially the ones who have children. Poor people end up paying a bigger portion of their check for rent and as a result have fewer savings, which won’t let them stabilize their financial situation. Eviction is a process that goes on a record and, for people who do not have enough financial ability to break through the poverty, this record entry creates more problems in the future while looking for a new place to live. Having an eviction on the record, not making enough money to qualify for a decent housing may result in a horrific outcome where a person is subject to homelessness or very poor living conditions, ending up paying even more for those places that would let them stay month-to-month and won’t guarantee any protection of their renting rights.
At the end of the day, the issues of poverty and eviction create a simple conclusion that people with no money have no chance for mistakes. Once they get evicted, they have even more social and financial issues and as a result, making it even hards for them to make ends meet. Desmond claims that people who get evicted end up having material problems up to two years after eviction.
The author provides some recommendation on how the system and social attitude towards poverty and rent should be changed and regulated in courts while providing affordable legal aid for those facing the eviction in order to prevent homelessness. His suggestion is to recognize housing as a basic human right and not as a mechanism of utilization. Desmond’s ideas make sense in terms of making housing less of a pain, however, in modern society, housing cannot be provided to an individual as a non-profit utilization property, since real estate remains one of the most important businesses in the United States. Works cited
Desmond, Matthew. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Crown Publishers, 2016.