When I was confronted with just the bare facts of poverty and inequality in America, it always disturbed and confused me.
The poor don't want some small life. They don't want to game the system. They want to contribute, and they want to thrive. But poverty reduces people born for better things.
Everywhere else, we are someone else, but at home, we remove our masks.
The things you're closest to are often the things you know least about.
I think I've read all of W.E.B. Du Bois, which is a lot. He started off with comprehensive field work in Philadelphia, publishing a book in 1899 called 'The Philadelphia Negro'. It was this wonderful combination of clear statistical data and ethnographic data.
I think there are ways that graduate students can fact-check their work. I think there are ways that we can do this that don't require massive amounts of resources.
You meet folks who are funny and really smart and persistent and loving that are confronting this thing we call poverty, which is just a shorthand for this way of life that holds you underwater. And you just wonder what our country would be if we allowed these people to flourish and reach their full potential.
We can start with housing, the sturdiest of footholds for economic mobility. A national affordable housing program would be an anti-poverty effort, human capital investment, community improvement plan, and public health initiative all rolled into one.
Families who get evicted tend to live in worse housing than they did before, and they live in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates and higher crime rates than they did before.
When we think of entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare immediately come to mind. But by any fair standard, the holy trinity of United States social policy should also include the mortgage-interest deduction - an enormous benefit that has also become politically untouchable.
You have to understand the role the landlords are playing in shaping neighborhoods, how they potentially expand or reduce inequality, how their profits are a direct result of some tenant's poverty.
The church should lead on issues of housing and affordability.
I teach at Harvard, and focusing on understanding this problem on a national level is a big priority of mine right now - where evictions are going up and down, what cities are actually instituting policies that work, what housing insecurity is doing to our cities, neighbourhoods, our kids.
Home is the wellspring of personhood, where our identity takes root; where civic life begins. America is supposed to be a place where you can better yourself, your family, and your community.
Public-sector union organisers have told me about how firefighters, police officers, and nurses can no longer afford to live in the cities they serve and protect.
A community that sees so clearly its own disadvantage or its own hardships also has a harder time seeing its potential: its ability to work together to change the community and change their lives.
Just strictly from a business standpoint, kids are a liability to landlords, and they actually provoke evictions.
I saw people get fired after their eviction. But when I found that if you get evicted, your chances of losing your job increase by 20 percent, that's when it really hit home for me.
You see one eviction, and you're overcome, but then there's another one and another one and another one.
I have always been really troubled by the amount of poverty in America. Americans are matched in their rich democracy with the depth and expanse of poverty. That's really always unsettled me.
National data on evictions aren't collected, although national data on foreclosures are. And so if anyone wants to, kind of, get to know any statistical research about evictions, they have to really dig in the annals of legal records.
A lot flows from the question: Is having decent, stable housing part of what it means to live in this country? And I think we should answer 'yes.'
If we are going to spend the bulk of our public dollars on the affluent - at least when it comes to housing - we should own up to that decision and stop repeating the canard about this rich country being unable to afford more.
Just as incarceration has come to define the lives of low-income black men, eviction is defining the lives of low-income black women.
Between 2007 and 2010, the average white family experienced an 11% reduction in wealth, but the average black family lost 31% of its wealth. The average Hispanic family lost 44.7%.
If eviction has these massive consequences that we all pay for, a very smart use of public funds would be to invest in legal services for folks facing eviction.
I want my work to influence public conversation, to turn heads, and to bear witness to this problem that's raging in our cities. If journalism helps me with that, I'll draw on journalism... and I'm not going to worry too much if academics get troubled over that distinction.
Some white Milwakeeans still referred to the North side as 'the cire', as they did in the 1960s, and if they ventured into it, they saw street after street of sagging duplexes, fading murals, twenty-four hour daycares, and corner stores with 'WIC Accepted Here' signs.
Young mothers who apply for housing assistance in our nation's capital literally could be grandmothers by the time their application is reviewed.
I don't think that you can address poverty unless you address the lack of affordable housing in the cities.
If you look at the American Household Survey, the last time we did that in 2013, renters in over 2.8 million homes thought they would be evicted soon.
I love Milwaukee, the rust belt. It's a very special part of America that's full of promise but also full of pain, where poverty is acute.
When you meet people who are spending 70, 80 percent of their income on rent, eviction becomes much more of an inevitability than the result of personal irresponsibility.
What we're seeing is that even in high poverty neighborhoods, the average cost of renting is quickly approaching the total income of welfare recipients and low wage workers.
If you just catalog the effects eviction has on people's live and neighborhoods, it's pretty troubling.
If we care about family stability, if we care about community stability, then we need fewer evictions.
I fought fires in the summer, and then I went back and did it again when I went to graduate school.
Substandard housing was a blow to your psychological health, not only because things like dampness, mold, and overcrowding could bring about depression but also because of what living in awful conditions told you about yourself.
No moral code or ethical principle, no piece of scripture or holy teaching, can be summoned to defend what we have allowed our country to become.
An eviction is an incredibly time consuming and stressful event.
Children didn't shield families from eviction: They exposed them to it.
Payday loans are but one of many financial techniques - from overdraft fees to student loans subsidizing for-profit colleges - specifically designed to pull money from the pockets of the poor. This problem generally goes unrecognized by policy makers.
Hundreds of data-mining companies sell landlords tenant-screening reports that list past evictions and court filings.
When you fight fires for a few seasons, you know what to expect. Your heart doesn't race as much as it did.
When I want to understand a problem, I want to understand it from the ground level.
Between 2009 and 2011, more than one in eight Milwaukee renters were displaced involuntarily, whether by formal or informal eviction, landlord foreclosure, or building condemnation.
There were evictions that I saw that I know I'll never forget. In one case, the sheriff and the movers came up on a house full of children. The mom had passed away, and the children had just gone on living there. And the sheriff executed the eviction order - moved the kids' stuff out on the street on a cold, rainy day.