Low-income women evicted more often than men partly because of gender dynamics with landlords

A recent analysis of evictions in Milwaukee shows the gender of a landlord and a tenant influences who is more likely to be evicted:

It’s an all-too-common story. Low-income women are evicted at much higher rates than men. The reasons are varied, including lower wages and children, but one rarely discussed reason is the gender dynamics between largely male landlords and female tenants…

But the interactions between predominantly male landlords and female tenants is also a culprit, and it often turns on gender dynamics. Men who fall behind on rent, for example, often went directly to the landlord. When Jerry was served an eviction notice, he promptly balled up and threw it in the face of his landlord. The two commenced yelling at each other until Jerry stomped back to his trailer.

Meanwhile, Larraine, who had also been served notice, recoiled from conflict. “I couldn’t deal with it. I was terrified by it, just terrified,” she told the researcher. After Jerry calmed down, he returned and offered to work off his rent by cleaning up the trailer park and doing some maintenance work, something men often offer to do, I found. The landlord accepted his offer. The outcome for Larraine was different. After avoiding her landlord, she would eventually come up with the rent, borrowing from her brother. But by that time, her landlord had had enough. He felt that Lorraine had taken advantage of him. In keeping with women’s generally non-confrontational approach, Larraine, like many other women renters facing eviction, engaged in “ducking and dodging” landlords often put it.

This dynamic has long-term implications. An eviction record can make it extremely difficult for them to find housing again. Evictions can ban a person from affordable housing programs. And many landlords will not rent to someone who’s been evicted. As they like to say, “I’ll rent to you as long as you don’t have an eviction or a conviction.” These twinned processes—eviction and conviction—work together to propagate economic disadvantage in the inner city.

This sounds like a confluence of race, class, gender. Being non-white and having a lower income leads to fewer housing opportunities and then gender compounds the particulars of interacting with male landlords. The difficulty in finding decent affordable housing then affects what neighborhoods people can live in, influencing social networks, collective efficacy, exposure to violence and crime, differences in educational systems, and access to economic opportunities.

Desmond’s brief report suggests the best solution is to help avoid evictions:

The most important policy solution, however, would be to ensure that low-income families do not end up in eviction court in the first place. Stopgap measures that provide emergency funds for families in a jam – those who have lost a job, experienced a family death, or suffered a medical emergency – could help thousands stay in their homes…

More fundamentally, making housing more affordable could prevent many evictions.

A tough issue to address in a country that tends to accept residential segregation as well as the prevalence of market forces in the housing industry.

Question from Real Housewives: is getting evicted from a McMansion worse than living in one?

From the Real Housewives of Atlanta comes this intriguing question: is getting evicted from a McMansion worse than living one in the first place?

There have been plenty of things said about Kim Zolciak’s sudden move from her “dream home” (which she was actually renting from Kendra and Antonio Davis), but she want’s everyone to get one thing straight: her family was not evicted from the McMansion.

In one of her last BravoTV.com blogs of her career on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim drives that point home yet again. “We were not EVICTED! We ALWAYS paid our rent. Our lease was up; it’s that simple,” she declares.

And in a direct response to what some of the other Housewives have been saying about Kim’s housing situation, she writes, “Yes, Kandi, NeNe, and Cynthia, it was once my ‘dream home’ and my credit has NOTHING to do with me moving. I’m blessed to have never had trouble financially unlike some of the other girls, but they can make whatever comments they’d like.”

McMansions are often thought of as status symbols: their owners want to show they have plenty of money and can afford a large house. Some critics of McMansions have argued that the purchase of such homes is all about new money and displaying status. The architecture of the McMansion tends to feed into this as they have imposing entryways and fronts with less attention paid to other parts of the house.

But, getting evicted from such a house suggests the owners can’t afford this lifestyle. In a country that tends to promote homeownership, getting evicted for financial reasons is usually not a happy topic for people but it could be even worse for people who have lived for years with the appearance that money is no problem. From what I’ve read about the various Real Housewives shows, their participants tend to fall in this group: spending money to keep up appearances matters so not being able to “keep up with the Joneses” in terms of their house would be a big deal. In other words, for some Americans, living in the McMansion in the first place is not a problem but not being able to live there long-term is.

A note: the various Real Housewives shows have generated a number of mentions of McMansions over recent years.

Ads to forestall foreclosure?

From the how-can-I-best-annoy-my-neighbors department, WebUrbanist explains how you can trade your home’s exterior for mortgage payments:

Looking to make a little extra money, and instigate an all-out war with your neighbors? A company called ‘Brainiacs from Mars‘ has the perfect solution. They’ll paint your house in the brightest, most annoying colors imaginable and plaster it with logos in the ‘Billboard Home Initiative’, which is aimed at homeowners dealing with the threat of foreclosure.

I guess homeowners facing eviction now have a new way to not go quietly.  Though I wonder if pulling a stunt like this would actually accelerate the foreclosure process.  With so many homeowners behind on their mortgage payments and the huge backlog of foreclosure cases in some areas, it strikes me that purposely turning one’s home into a garish billboard might move actually one to the very top of a bank’s priority list for eviction.