I have been waiting to read this book for awhile, and was excited to see it finally appear as an ebook at the library
The book is:
Author: Matthew Desmond
This is a biography from the author's point of view of tenant and landlord life in inner city Milwaukee. He follows eight families as they go through the eviction process and try to get back on their feet. He also follows a few landlords who are responsible for those evictions. In the book he sets to proove that poverty stricken people - especially women and children - have an almost impossible time finding affordable housing that isn't in crime infested neighborhoods. Even when they do find housing it is often without running water, or broken windows, or without appliances. He shows that the cycle of poverty is hard to break and how quickly things can get out of control.
I really liked this book. My husband and I are landlords, and we own 6 rental properties and have a total of 13 units. We have prided ourselves in buying these houses from slum lords (for the most part - not all) and turning them into nice places for people to live. When something breaks, we fix it immediately. We have hard and fast rules, but we expect respect from our tenants. In the four years we have been landlords, we have learned a lot of hard lessons, but now feel like we know what we are doing.
I was sickened by both sides of the stories in this book. The tenants - while poor and desolate - also were most times drug addicts or felons. Almost each story had a case where the tenant had made bad choices in their lives and they were paying for them. Hard. On the other hand - the two landlords they followed were definitely slum lords. And they weren't ashamed of it. The conditions that these folks had to live in for $500-$600 a month was disgusting. Nothing ever got fixed - especially if the renter was behind on their rent. The landlords were painted that getting rent was their only priority - not making nice places for people to live.
Respect begets respect. If the landlords don't respect the tenants, the tenants don't respect the property. And round and round it goes. Sure - we are not talking about Harvard graduates in these apartments, but everyone deserves a nice place to live. If people are helped back on their feet and given a chance to "make good", then things would turn around for both sides of this story. But neither side is interested. The renters want something for nothing and the landlords want their money for nothing. It is a crazy cycle.
Mat and I got into this business because we wanted to give people a nice place to live. We wanted to rid our home town of slum lords and encourage good people to move into these neighborhoods. In the case of this book - I don't see anything but a broken cycle that just makes you want to tear your hair out.
Stars: 4 1/2
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