MacArthur “Genius” and Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City) discusses his book and his work on housing access and affordability as well as broader, longstanding issues of critical importance to the health of our nation: income and housing insecurity. Desmond will be in conversation with Kevin McDonald, UVA’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Partnerships.

This virtual Virginia Festival of the Book event is FREE to attend and open to the public. To attend, please register below to take part on Zoom or simply make plans to watch the livestream on

Desmond’s Eviction Lab at Princeton, launched in 2017, recently released the Eviction Tracking System, which monitors eviction filings in real time across a set of American cities, and, in partnership with Columbia Law School Professor Emily Benfer, a policy scorecard for each state, distilling the contents of thousands of newly-released emergency orders, declarations, and legislation into a clear set of critical measures included in, and left out of, state-level pandemic responses related to eviction and housing.

“Rent—it’s the greediest of bills. For many families, it grows every year, arbitrarily, almost magically… unlike defaulting on other bills, missing a rent payment can result in immediate and devastating consequences, casting families into poverty and homelessness.”

Matthew Desmond, “The Rent Eats First, Even During a Pandemic,” The New York Times, August 29, 2020

“After reading Evicted, you’ll realize you cannot have a serious conversation about poverty without talking about housing. You will also have the mad urge to present it into the hands of every elected official you meet. The book is that good, and it’s that unignorable.”—Jennifer Senior, New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2016

“In spare and penetrating prose… Desmond has made it impossible to consider poverty without grappling with the role of housing. This pick [as a best book of 2016] was not close.”—Carlos Lozada, Washington Post

“Inside my copy of his book, Mr. Desmond scribbled a note: ‘home = life.’ Too many in Washington don’t understand that. We need a government that will partner with communities, from Appalachia to the suburbs to downtown Cleveland, to make hard work pay off for all these overlooked Americans.”—Senator Sherrod Brown, Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama • The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe • The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg • Esquire • BuzzFeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Politico • The Week • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness

WINNER OF: The Pulitzer Prize • The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction • The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction • The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism • The PEN/New England Award • The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize

Book cover image of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Daniels, with black lettering on a gray background which depicts an interior wall with white shapes to indicate spaces left by removed artwork. Seals identify the book as a Pulitzer Prize Winner and one of 10 best books of 2016 by the New York Times Book Review.


This program was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and their support for the Virginia Humanities initiative, Changing the Narrative Through the Power of Story.

Community Partners

Festival staff appreciates the planning support of Elaine Poon, Legal Aid Justice Center, and Sunshine Mathon, Piedmont Housing Alliance. Thanks to our many community partners for their aid in sharing information about this event: Albemarle County Community Development Department, Albemarle Housing Improvement Program – AHIP, Building Goodness Foundation, Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Charlottesville Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Clergy and Laity United for Justice and Peace, The Democracy Initiative at UVA, The Equity Center at UVA, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, The Haven, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Mapping Cville, Network2Work@PVCC, New City Arts Initiative, PACEM, Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR), Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, UVA Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, UVA Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UVA Institute for Engagement & Negotiation, UVA Library, University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE), Virginia Housing, and Virginia Organizing.


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