Evictions Used to Attract Crowds. Now they Affect Poor Black Women.

This is an extraordinary quote from an article in the New Yorker:

In February, 1932, the Times published an account of community resistance to the eviction of three families in the Bronx, observing, “Probably because of the cold, the crowd numbered only 1,000.”

Now, evictions rarely attract crowds. According to the same article, “the majority of poor renting families spend more than half their income on housing,” with the predictable result that millions of Americans are evicted every year. Evictions are no longer unusual. They are so common the idea of a crowd showing up for every single one is inconceivable.

This is another profound quote from that article:

If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.

The consequences overlap. Both convictions and evictions land on records, and both make it harder to get a job, credit, rent an apartment, and ultimately get out of poverty.

I don’t mean to suggest that it is wrong to evict people who aren’t paying their rent. What’s wrong is that so many Americans can’t pay rent, and that so many of the Americans who can’t pay rent are black. Those are complicated problems. Criminal justice reform is finally getting some attention, but we really need to work on both issues.