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A MacArthur Foundation study found that the demographic suffering the most evictions under the current economic downturn is black women. Black women in poor are more likely to be evicted from their homes, continuing a cycle of poverty.
Common Dreams reports that in Milwaukee, where the study was done, black women make up only 9.6 percent of the city’s population but account for an astounding 30 percent of evictions.
Milwaukee is more segregated than any city except Detroit, and the majority of blacks, 74 percent, are poor, and paid 50 percent of their income in rent. One in 17 poor black women faced conviction, as compared to one in 33 men.
The circumstances that poor black women face eventually leads to a poverty trap:
A number of issues factor into these statistics. Women are paid less on average, particularly when living paycheck-to-paycheck, and are more likely to have dependents, which increases cost of living on a stagnant income. These complications are often compounded by lasting negative consequences from previous evictions, which can prevent people from qualifying for housing assistance or have caused them to lose their possessions as well as their homes. Men in high-poverty areas are also less likely to be lease holders due to high criminal conviction rates.
This makes the devastation poor black women face on par with that of black men.
“The average cost of rent, even in high-poverty neighborhoods, is quickly approaching the total income of welfare recipients,” Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond wrote, according to Common Dreams. “The fundamental issue is this: the high cost of housing is consigning the urban poor to financial ruin.”
He also calls for policies to be put in place to help ensure that poor black women don’t end up on the street.