A tenant’s worst nightmare is a landlord who doesn’t care.
A landlord’s worst nightmare is a non-paying tenant…
In Matthew Desmond’s latest, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, every tenant and every landlord is given their fair amount of space to talk. These are true stories captured on tape recordings and witnessed firsthand by Matthew Desmond himself.
Which makes the book even more unsettling to read and I will explain why.
If you have never been evicted before, then you have never tasted the moment acid running from your gut to your throat because you know a sheriff will come and change the locks and order you out and then homelessness becomes your meal.
And if you are a landlord, it is hard to feel bad for tenants who do not or cannot pay because you have to answer to higher authorities as well.
One of the landlords in the story, Sheerena puts it this way: If she gives you a break, you have to return the favor. She even went so far as to say,
“Tenants could trade their dignity and children’s health just to have a roof over their heads.”
Shereena was only putting into words how many landlords feel.
Desmond also factors how sometimes race plays a huge role in who gets the better slice of the American pie…very interesting stuff people.
Desmond has written a great study and at a good time when it is hard to find a home and job. As someone who has gone through eviction before, I empathize with many of the tenants in his book.
Yet with the clear, objective way he wrote, I now have a better understanding of the protocols and processes landlords must take when letting someone rent or that difficult time when one must be evicted.
In the end however, I still feel bad for many of tenants because once you read how they ended up where they are and sacrifices they have to make, it shows how America really needs to upgrade on its humanity skills.
Shereena may have her good points as a landlord and yes, some tenants are nasty, trifling and don’t deserve a nice place- but there are times when Sheerena seems to be a greedy monster after the dollar signs at any cost no matter who it hurts.
And the fact that she has a home and vacations when she wants to, only to come back by the first and hound poor people for rent- make me lose respect for landlords like her.
I highly recommend this book if you wish to learn more about the inner workings of the relationship between tenant and landlord. I think I’ve learned a great deal including terms I was unfamiliar with as well as the actual job of a landlord.
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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond
Crown Publishing, 2016
*This book was received for free from Netgalley