Eviction is about more than losing a home

One year ago, the think tank New America published “Displaced in America.” Wake Forest University contributed to this study – the first of its kind to look at the root causes of national housing loss.

According to the report, nearly 5 million Americans lose their homes through eviction and foreclosure in a normal year. The pandemic may leave up to 40 million at risk. Associate professor Sherri Lawson Clark, a cultural anthropologist who studies public housing policy and low-income homeownership, was a key contributor to the report. Her research focuses on the point where housing and health and welfare policies meet.

With housing loss, what do the data tell us?

The census data showed that where there is poverty, the number of people experiencing housing loss and foreclosure is high. Census tracts in Forsyth County with the highest housing loss rates aligned with areas historically associated with segregation and a lack of available financial and social services. Cultural anthropologists are interested in gathering information that can tell the personal stories behind the data. Numbers don’t reveal the fear and anxiety related to housing loss – especially when it is tied to circumstances beyond the homeowner’s control, as it has been for many during the pandemic.

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