Research Guides

One Book, One U 2022


Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond
This year's One Book, One U selection is Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
One Book, One U Common Reading Program
The One Book, One U program selects a book for each Spring semester to provide a shared educational experience in our university community.  Find information on upcoming events as well as research resources, dicussion guides, and more!
Request a copy of the book!
Please fill out the online form to request a copy of the book:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScE1zmNqaM_s4csSooS4GT-ynGBe0SENW6VtuZd_RjbWmmjmA/viewform
  You can also scan the QR code below:
Community and Civic Engagement Research Guide
Find more resources on the Community and Civic Engagement Research Guide!
Miami-focused Eviction Moratorium News Feed

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National Eviction Moratorium News Feed

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Find a copy of the book in a library!
If you are a member of the UM community, use the links below to get access to the ebook and audio book:
If you are a member of the South Florida community, check your local library to find a copy of the ebook available for check out.
Events
We are still planning events for Spring 2022.  Please check back for updates.  Find the full list of events on the One Book, One U website.  If you are planning an event related to Evicted, please feel free to let us know about here: https://forms.gle/FSdhXfJXoH5NJrcL6

 
UM scholarship related to homelessness and eviction
Please find links to scholarship produced by UM faculty, staff, and students on homelessness, eviction, and related topics.  (If you would like your scholarship featured here, please email abrillat@miami.edu.  We'd love to bring awareness to your work!)
  • Petty Offenses Symposium Law Review: Featuring Eric Tars from the National Homelessness Law Center, and Tamar Ezer, Melanie Ng, David Stuzin, and Conor Arevalo from the University of Miami School of Law.  This entire issue is valuable for discussions of homelessness in the United States.
Primary Resources: Distinctive Collections
The UM Libraries Special Collections houses a number of collections that are directly related to housing and eviction.  Take a look at the guides below to find oral histories, papers, and more!
Databases
Instructor Reading Groups: Fall 2021
Are you interested in including the 2021-2022 One Book, One U common reading selection, Matthew Desmond's Evicted in your teaching?  Join us for a facilitated reading group to discuss how to teach Evicted, for UM faculyt, staff, and graduate students.  Organized by the Office of Institutional Culture, Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement team, and UM Libraries, this initiative allows interested instructors to explore how to incorporate the text into their classrooms.
 
Please register for one session only.  Each session will cover the same material, and use the same facilitating prompts.
 
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Via Zoom
Registration link
Friday, October 29, 2021
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Via Zoom
Registration link

Facilitators will be announced soon.
 
Reading Guides
Curious about Evicted?  Check-out the guides below for more information!
Teaching Example: Race, Housing, and Eviction in Miami, by Dr. Robin Bachin
Discussion questions
Using the Chapter Summaries document, select a chapter that relates to your class or group and host a discussion session.  As a starting point, you can use the questions below, adapted from the American Library Association Book Discussion Group online guide.

Questions to Discuss
  1. What does Desmond do to criticize the American housing system?  What does the author wish to reform or change?
  2. Does the book offer a central idea or premise?  What are the issues being raised?
  3. Do the issues raised by Desmond affect your life?  How so?  Directly, on a daily basis, or more generally?
  4. What evidence does Desmond provid to support the central ideas of the book?  What sources does he use, and how does he use them?
  5. Is the evidence Desmond provides convincing?  Is it relevant or logical?  Does it come from authoritative sources?  Is Desmond an authority?  If so, how?
  6. Does Desmond make any unsupported claims?  What are they, and what evidence would be needed to support them?
  7. What kind of language does Desmond use?  How does his writing help or undercut his premise?
  8. What implications does Desmond draw for the future?  What are the short-term and long term consequences to the issues being raised in the book?
  9. What solutions does Desmond offer?  Who would implement those soluctuions?  How probable is success?
  10. How does Desmond make a call to action to the readers?
  11. Are the issues raised by Desmond controversial?  If so, how?  What are the different sides of the controversy?
  12. What specific passages of the book or chapter struck you personally- as interesting, profound, incomprehensible, illuminating, etc?
  13. What did you learn from reading the book?  Did it broaden your perspective?
UM Instructional Designers
Want more ideas and activities?  Reach out to the Learning Innovation & Faculty Engagement team at Academic Technologies!  Contact them at life@miami.edu.  Find more information on the Academic Technologies website.
Matthew Desmond's Reader Discussion Questions and Topics
The questions below are included in Evicted on page 418 of the paperback edition.

1. Have you ever been evicted or do you know anyone who has? If the answer is yes, what was your/their experience like, and how has it affected your/their life?

2. What was your experience reading Evicted? Were you surprised by what you learned? Was any particular scene or character’s story emotionally painful for you to witness?

3. Many people have very codified perceptions of “people who get evicted” and suspect that those people are largely responsible—through bad decision making—for their circumstances. Did you feel this way before reading Evicted? Why or why not? Did your opinions change after reading the book? If so, how?

4. In Evicted, author Matthew Desmond takes a narrative approach to an important topic and follows the stories of several real people. Which person’s story were you most drawn to and why?

5. Sherrena Tarver claimed to have found her calling as an inner-city entrepreneur, stating, “The ’hood is good. There’s a lot of money there” (page 152). How did Sherrena profit from being a landlord in poor communities? Do you think her profits were justified? What responsibilities do landlords have when renting their property? What risks do they take? Do you sympathize with Sherrena or not? 

6. On Larraine and her late boyfriend Glen’s anniversary, she spends her monthly allocation of food stamps on “two lobster tails, shrimp, king crab legs, salad, and lemon meringue pie” (page 218). Can you relate to her decision? How might you have judged her differently without knowing the backstory that Desmond provides? 

7. Because they have children, Arleen, Vanetta, and Pam and Ned frequently find themselves shut out of available housing and resort to lies in order to secure a place to live. Are these lies justified? If you have children, how far would you go to shelter your family? 

8. Although eviction is the central issue in Evicted, affordable housing interacts intimately with many other social issues. For example: Do parents who have trouble finding/providing safe housing for their children deserve to have their children taken away and put in foster care? Would affordable housing make it easier for addicts and recovering addicts (such as Scott) to enroll in programs that increase chances of rehabilitation? What other major issues can you think of that eviction affects, whether in this book or in the world in general? 

9. How does race factor into the types of struggles faced by the individuals profiled in Evicted? What about being a woman? Or a single parent?

10. Did reading Evicted inspire you to want to help others in positions similar to those of the people in the book? If so, how do you think you might get involved? (Hint: Visit JustShelter.org to learn more about groups and organizations in your local area who are already fighting the good fight!)

11. Why do you think Crystal made the decision to let Arleen and her sons stay until they found another residence? How did tenants such as Crystal and Arleen rely on friends and extended kin networks to get by? Did this do anything to lift them out of poverty or distress? What limitations do these short-term relationships have? Why do you think agencies such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children seek to limit kin dependence?

12. Landlords repeatedly turned down Pam and Ned’s rental applications because they have children. Why? Do you think families with children should have any protection when seeking housing? Why do you think families with children were not considered a protected class when Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968? Do you think it is fair for landlords to charge tenants with children monthly surcharges and children-damage deposits? Why or why not? 

13. Why did Doreen choose not to call Sherrena when the house was in desperate need of repair? Do you agree that “The house failed the tenants, and the tenants failed the house” (page 256)? What effects does living in a home that is not decent or functional have on a person’s psychological and emotional health? 

14. Do you think housing should be a right in America? 

15. Many Americans still believe that the typical low-income family lives in public housing. Unfortunately, the opposite is true; only 1 in 4 families who qualify for any kind of housing assistance receive it. In Evicted, Desmond proposes a universal housing voucher program. What do you think of that idea? 

16. The government spends much more money on homeowner tax benefits for affluent families than on housing assistance to poor families. Is this situation justified? How would you address this issue? 
 
Contact Information
This guide is maintained by the following individual(s):

Roxane Pickens

Ava Brillat

  • Program Lead for Information Literacy and Instructional Design
  • abrillat@miami.edu
  • (305) 284-4058

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