Phenomenal ethnography, couldn’t put it down. Follows the stories of a number of tenants and a landlord in Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee, a city of fewer than 105,000 renter households, landlords evict roughly 16,000 adults and children each year. That’s sixteen families evicted through the court system daily. But there are other ways, cheaper and quicker ways, for landlords to remove a family than through court order. Some landlords pay tenants a couple hundred dollars to leave by the end of the week. Some take off the front door. Nearly half of all forced moves experienced by renting families in Milwaukee are “informal evictions” that take place in the shadow of the law.
For example, a program that ran from 2005 to 2008 in the South Bronx provided more than 1,300 families with legal assistance and prevented eviction in 86 percent of cases. It cost around $450,000, but saved New York City more than $700,000 in estimated shelter costs alone.37 The consequences of eviction are many—and so are its burdens on the public purse.