Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Speaks on Affordable Housing
Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, recently won the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction for a book based on research conducted in Milwaukee. The book, "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," studies the relationship between eviction and poverty through the stories of eight Milwaukee families, black and white, and two landlords involved with them.
In a recent interview conducted by the Dallas Morning News, he spoke on universal expansion of housing vouchers as a way to address the problem of the lack of affordable housing that meets minimum housing standards. “We know from research that when families finally receive a voucher after years and years on the waiting list, they move to better neighborhoods. Their kids do go to better schools. They're exposed to lower levels of crime and violence. Their kids get more to eat, because one of the first things families do with that ticket that allows them to pay only 30 percent of their income on housing, instead of 60 or 70, the first thing is they do with that bit of income is take it to the grocery store and buy more food.”
Desmond also spoke briefly about the LIHTC program. “We have the Low‑Income Housing Tax Credit program, about a $7 billion federal investment. We should really call it the middle‑income housing tax credit. It really doesn't reach [the working poor]. It's to help firefighters and teachers have a bit more affordability, which is a wonderful goal, but it does leave the extreme poor out in the cold a bit. [But] there are other ways of addressing the problems that aren't so costly. We could think of things like expanding legal assistance to families in eviction court or limiting access to eviction records.”