An evicted renter
(left) looks on as Alameda County Sheriff Deputy Ken Cammack prepares to post a
notice of eviction
on the door of an apartment where tenants defaulted on rent
payments June 4, 2009, in Oakland, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty images
MacArthur Foundation “How Housing Matters” (pdf) reveals that while black men face alarmingly high incarceration rates, black
women are disproportionately evicted from their homes.
to the study, in any given year, approximately 16,000 adults and children are
evicted in Milwaukee from approximately 6,000 housing units—that equates to 16
households evicted every day.
startling statistics account only for court-ordered evictions and do not even
touch on coercive tactics like paying unwanted tenants to vacate, housing
condemnations and landlord foreclosures.
brief was based on a recent study in Wisconsin, which followed 11 families
through a string of evictions, analyzed 29,960 eviction records in Milwaukee
County between 2003 and 2007, and conducted 251 on-site surveys at Milwaukee’s
eviction court in January and February 2011. It offers a deep analysis of how
evictions sets in motion a chain reaction that exasperates the well-being of
already struggling, poor families.
the eviction-court survey population, which was 74 percent black, the majority
paid 50 percent of their incomes for rent, with one-third using 80 percent of
their incomes for rent, according to the study.
study that shows those who are cast out from their homes are disproportionately
women from black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
are these women more likely to be evicted?
study explains that there are a number of factors at play, including lower
wages, living paycheck to paycheck and primary child-rearing responsibilities.
Beyond the added cost of larger rental units, children can cause landlords to
face state scrutiny for issues such as lead poisoning or be reported by child
protective services if the home poses a health-code violation. Also, women
often underreport unsafe or unsanitary living conditions in deteriorated
housing, especially when shared with an abusive partner who may not be on the
factor that is significant and rarely discussed is gender power dynamics
between mostly male landlords and female tenants. The fieldwork illustrates how
women typically adopt a nonconfrontational and less proactive approach with
their landlords when struggling to pay their rent—a tactic that often
example, the study points to Larraine, who “ducked and dodged” her landlord
after receiving an eviction notice. She explained to the researcher, “I couldn’t
deal with it. I was terrified by it, just terrified.”
study’s research showed that men tend to approach their landlords directly when
they fall behind on their rent payments. Sometimes that encounter may dissolve
into a shouting match; other times, it may involve the male tenant offering to
do some maintenance work to cover his debts. Either way, men benefit more from
to the study, for many low-income black women, a single eviction can leave an
indelible mark with a lasting effect. Many landlords will refuse to rent to
someone who has been previously evicted, and an eviction can bar a person from
qualifying for affordable-housing programs. In addition to being a loss of a
home, an eviction often is accompanied by a loss of possessions, leading to an
endless cycle of bouncing from one problematic living situation to another.
even though many people are one paycheck away from being ousted from their
home, only 1 in 4 households that qualify for housing assistance actually
receives it, the study explains.
The study points to policy
measures—including the stopgap designation of emergency funds for financially
struggling families, which can prevent them from winding up in an eviction
court in the first place, and, more important, making affordable housing more
widely available—as keys to reeling in this rampant problem.
low-income, inner-city neighborhoods, mirror processes are fueling a system
steeped in economic inequality: eviction and conviction, the study reveals.
to the study, “Poor black men are locked up while poor black women are locked
more at the MacArthur Foundation (pdf)
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