For most of my life homelessness was either a statistic or the occasional stranger holding a sign asking for money in one of my visits to a larger city. Matthew Desmond, the author, provides a real service to us by humanizing the homeless. After spending 18 months in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Desmond chronicles the real-life stories of those who experience eviction and the threat of eviction on a regular basis. The stories are tragic, raw and heartbreaking.
Desmond deftly describes the structure of poverty. The subtitle of the book is ‘Poverty And Profit In The American City’. The structure of poverty in America enables many entities to be financially enriched on the backs of the poor.
I met the author back in May and told him that it was the best/worst book I had ever read. I couldn’t put it down but it made me angry that I was so ignorant and that there is a system in place that truly harms the poor.
Read this book and then work to channel your anger in a positive way. This book has helped shape some of our work in Princeton with the economically disadvantaged. We do have a ‘homeless shelter’ in Princeton that provides transitional housing for the homeless (Housing Initiative of Princeton).