From today’s Milwaukee Journal Schneider: Desmond’s ‘Evicted’ is a flawed masterpiece
Homes in Milwaukee’s poorest areas often can be bought for as little as $8,000, with rents running upwards of $500 a month. In virtually no time, landlords can own the properties free and clear and the rent they collect is pure profit — as long as they can collect. As succinctly put by one of the landlords featured in the book, an African-American woman named “Sherrena,” (pseudonyms are used throughout the book) “The ‘hood is good.”
Attorney Heiner Giese did the research to discover Sherrena’s identity. She was not becoming wealthy on these properties. Instead, Sherrena began losing her buildings to foreclosure shortly after the Desmond interviews and was out of business well before the book was published. Many of her properties have since been razed.
Further, despite the book’s grim portrayal of landlords, one can only imagine how far these neighborhoods could fall if landlords weren’t there to keep at least some semblance of order. If housing laws were to squeeze the amount of money property owners could make on their rental units, they may simply abandon these homes altogether, leaving a lawless landscape devoid of structure.