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Poor Black Women Facing Eviction At A Shockingly High Rate

The New York Times has a very distressing article on how poor black women are disproportionately suffering from evictions, as compared to any other demographic in the country.  The article is pinned on a sociological paper which was recently published, which draws out a number of causes for why poor black women are being evicted at a higher rate.  

"Just as incarceration has become typical in the lives of poor black men, eviction has become typical in the lives of poor black women," says the author of the study, sociologist Matthew Desmond.  Black women are more likely to be raising children than black men at the same income bracket.  This is a two-part blow for them financially: if you have children, you need a larger apartment.  And children can be kinda expensive in and of themselves, obviously.

In other words, these women are living close to the edge to begin with.  Their ties to their jobs may be, in the article's words, "tenuous."  Their financial lives are shaky in the extreme.  One bout of car trouble, one unexpected emergency medical bill, one bounced check that results in an overdraft fee, and their entire financial situation falls into chaos.  All too often, this can result in an eviction.

These women are taking advantage of all the programs available to them, but they are still falling into a debt spiral which ends with the sheriff and a moving company shifting everything you own onto the sidewalk.  A lot of people feel that poor people get what they deserve, but what about the children?  

An eviction can throw their life into turmoil as they are bounced from one distant relative to another, changing schools, being torn from friends, and subject to the whims of a random collection of adults.  Republicans are deeply anti-crime, is my impression, and if ever there was a recipe for raising a criminal, it would be this.  Why not prevent criminals before they start, by helping to provide them with a coherent family life and education?

One simple way to attack this problem is at the child care level.  Working single mothers have to pay for child care during the hours between when their children leave school, and when they arrive home.  This can be a tremendous drain on financial resources which are already on the edge.  State sponsored and non-profit child care can make a huge difference in the life of an entire family.  Most states have a child care program, but it's typically poorly funded, and the waiting lists for enrollment are fearsome.  

The lack of available child care is just one of many points on which the United States fails compared to other (actual) developed nations.  Although we have many of the trappings of an industrialized country, poor single working mothers being thrown out on the street in droves is one of those things that keeps us  from being respected in a global sense.  If you ask people from other developed nations like England, Germany, Italy, France, and Israel, our lack of child care is simply uncivilized.  And honestly, I would have to agree.

Creative Commons-licensed image courtesy of Flickr user Huro Kitty