October 12 Public Policy Forum with Matthew Desmond and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ-D) Was Moderated by Paula Franzese
On Thursday, October 12, 2017, a Public Policy Forum on eviction in NJ with Princeton sociologist Dr. Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Evicted, and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ-D) was held at Drew University in Madison, NJ. The forum was held in The Concert Hall on Drew’s campus.
Dr. Desmond shared his research, and along with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ-D), participate in a moderated discussion around possible solutions to the eviction crisis. The conversation between Dr. Desmond and U.S. Senator Booker was moderated by leading educator and housing advocate Prof. Paula Franzese, Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. Their discussion will be followed by responses to audience questions.
In his work, Dr. Desmond explained the wide and devastating impact of eviction. “The consequences of eviction are so much greater than I was fully aware of when I started the work. Families not only lose their homes,” said Mathew Desmond. “Kids lose their schools. They also lose their things, which are piled on the sidewalk. It’s a lot of time and money to establish a home, and eviction erases all that. It comes with a record, which affects your chances of moving into stable housing because a lot of landlords will turn you away.”
In the year ending on June 30, 2016, New Jersey saw 161,000 evictions. This eviction rate tells us that one in every six tenants in New Jersey experienced an eviction and it reflects the eviction crisis that Matthew Desmond identified in his research and Professor Franzese chronicled in her empirical study of eviction proceedings in Newark.
“Without a secure place to call home, dreams are shattered and hearts broken,” said Professor Franzese. “This Forum presents a profoundly important opportunity to confront the harsh inequities of housing opportunity in America, so that those injustices can be righted.”
NJCounts 2017, coordinated by Monarch Housing Associates, reported that fourteen percent of homeless households during the point in time count said that eviction caused their homelessness.
“The eviction crisis in NJ has a significant impact on families who can barely afford rising rents,” said Richard W. Brown, CEO, Monarch Housing Associates. “Unfortunately, many families become homeless as a result of an eviction. NJCounts 2017 listed eviction as the second most common reason for becoming homeless. We hope this forum will help to clarify the issues and prioritize solutions that strengthen our communities. Going forward, Monarch Housing looks to hosting future issue and solution focused.”
Dr. Desmond pointed to the importance of bringing housing assistance to scale.
“The good news is we have programs that work; the good news is that when families do benefit from housing assistance their lives get markedly better – they live in way better neighborhoods, their kids get stronger and healthier, they are more stable,” says Desmond. “The problem is we’re doing it too small. It’s not in the design, it’s in the dosage. We can spend smarter or we can spend stupid and this is an issue that touches other areas. Without stable shelter everything else does fall apart. The problem is that assistance is a lottery that a lucky minority of poor families benefit from. We don’t need to outsmart this problem, we need to out-will it.”
The Public Policy Forum concluded with a second panel discusssion about solutions addressing the eviction crisis including state and national advocacy.
Sponsoring the forum were Monarch Housing, NJ Policy Perspective, the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ, the Anti-Poverty Network of NJ, the Supportive Housing Association of NJ, Bridges Outreach, the Mental Health Association in NJ, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Homeless Solutions and the Drew University Center for Civic Engagement.
The Public Policy Forum is underwritten by a grant from the Investors Foundation.
Follow the event on Twitter with the hashtag #EvictionNJForum