Month: June 2019

Evictions: “The Scarlet E”

Evictions: “The Scarlet E”

My list of Wealth for Good causes is growing. Today I’m adding Evictions to the category of Economic Inequality. My Mom brought this to my attention. Her Saint Vincent DePaul Society is hard pressed to help those who ask for money help pay their mortgage or rent to avoid eviction.

As I started to research the topic, my husband, Steve, immediately directed me to a a new series called The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis, currently airing on the WNYC radio show On the Media. The host, Brooke Gladstone, gives a concise summary of why evictions have become an epidemic in the Unites States today.

“Starting this project I thought I understood the gist of the problem. The lack of jobs? Nope. Hollowed out industrial centers? U-huh. How about a lack of available actual housing? Not so much. The lack of affordable housing? Unquestionably, but why? It turns out it’s not so much about poverty as it is about extracting wealth from people who earn the lowest wages, especially black and brown people, by charging more for less.”

The series includes interviews with Matthew Desmond,  author of the bestselling Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, and Director of Princeton’s Eviction Lab. The Lab gathers and studies eviction data from every town, city, and county across the United States. I spent some time on the site today. The data, shown in maps and graphics, is stunning.

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

As Desmond cautions in the interview, data quality and differences in eviction court filings versus actual evictions makes it difficult to compare eviction rates across the US. But a picture emerges, nevertheless. You should see it with your own eyes.

The Scarlet E series has four parts. I’ve listened to the first two, and am looking forward to hearing the last two, especially part 4 – “Solutions.”  I hope you listen, too. [1]