America’s Eviction Crisis: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Fix It?

We have an eviction epidemic in this country. We’ve had one for a long time, actually.

Chasing the Dream is partnering with WNYC to present episodes of “The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis,” a four-part series from On the Media. Host Brooke Gladstone seeks out the history of displacement and denial of housing, stories from today’s eviction victims, and, ultimately, potential solutions.

Episode 1: “Why?”

We hear the story of Jeffrey, a security guard whose hours were inconsistent, whose rent burden was beyond severe, and whose family now lives in a two-bed hotel room in Richmond, Virginia. And we meet our partner in this project, Matt Desmond — Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, and founder of the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. Brooke and Matt hash out what we know and what we only think we know about the forces that drive eviction.

Episode 2: “40 Acres”

Eviction isn’t without its own historical context. In vulnerable communities of people of color, in particular, displacement and denial of housing are phenomena centuries in the making. This episode maps the persistent line between racist housing policies, localized profiteering, and the devastating plunder of generations of wealth.

Episode 3: “Tenants and Landlords”

This is the dollars-and-cents episode, in which we set our sights on those who own and those who rent. We visit Camden, Indianapolis, and Richmond to hear from tenants, landlords, advocates, and others about the practicalities and pitfalls of housing America’s poor families in the private rental market.

Episode 4: “Solutions”

The series concludes with evidence that despite the breadth and depth of the eviction epidemic, it is treatable in ways that will strengthen the overall health of the nation. We interrogate the history of public housing, a solution that worked in some places and was allowed to fail in many others. And we catalog the tweaks and transformations that could mend our housing.


Support for “The Scarlet E” is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Melville Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and “Chasing the Dream,” a WNET initiative reporting on poverty and opportunity in America.