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A man smokes inside a tent on skid row Friday, March 20, 2020, in Los Angeles.
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American Poverty Is Our Problem To Fix

September 21, 2023

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“The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why?” That’s the question that underscores Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist Matthew Desmond’s new book, “Poverty, by America.” America is a country that purports equality as one of its highest values. Economic opportunity and the long touted American dream have driven millions to emigrate and settle here for centuries. In reality, however, gross economic inequality undergirds every facet of American life: education, the criminal legal system, health care, and housing.

Affordable housing is foundational to American life. Because America is rife with poverty, it’s also rife with housing inequality. This is Desmond’s focus of study. Desmond’s work at Princeton University’s “Eviction Lab” and his 2016 book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” continue to shape the conversation about housing and poverty today. His new book takes his exploration one step further, seeking to examine and address the roots and responses to housing insecurity and its threat to American life.

Today, we are running a conversation between Desmond and the ACLU’s Sandra Park, senior staff attorney for the Women’s Rights Project, who also works on these issues. Together, they’ll break down the complexities of American poverty and how poverty as a societal force threatens the accessibility of our civil rights and civil liberties.

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