The book Evicted does well in describing the many ordinary ways people use to make money on the backs of poor people. For instance, there is a story about a seminar for landlords in which a man tells a remarkably honest story about disliking poor people and deciding to get out of interacting with them. He got into self storage which eliminated the need to go around and collect rent. I have encountered consumers who had storage units and it was due to evictions. One person was exhibiting some hoarding behavior. His anxiety seemed to decrease after he got a job.
But for the consumers we are working with who are being evicted there are few choices: either seeing your belongings thrown into the street, have the landlord move everything into a storage unit in the house or apartment building or pay money for storage until you’re able to get an apartment.
Once you are evicted, the record follows you around and decreases your ability to obtain decent housing. In fact, the bad landlords had some of the lowest vacancy rates around. Cleaning out the poor is a big game and everybody plays.
In some ways, landlords can make even more money while negotiating with tenants. Evicted has a story about the owner of a rundown trailer park on the far south side who squeezed obscene amounts of money for buildings I would not want my worst enemy to live in. Even after squeezing every dime, the landlord could still evict people.
Apart from landlords and storage sellers, there are the sub prime lenders who sell junk heaps to people with bad credit. Buffalo, formerly home of steel, has bottom feeders who buy and sell bad debt owed by impoverished people.
At least some of these problems would be corrected by creating better paying jobs with benefits. When we drive over streets that rattle and shake our vehicles, when we look at deferred maintenance of our parks, when we completely neglect our state institutions and children are damaged, we know we must begin to invest in people and stop letting the 1% continue exploiting poor people.