by Michael McCurry
On October 12, Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) and the author of “Evicted”, Dr. Matthew Desmond spoke at a public policy forum hosted in Drew University’s Concert Hall in the Dorothy Young Performing Arts Center. The talk was sponsored by a myriad of different housing and development organizations and was intended to shed a light on the ongoing housing crisis that affects many poverty stricken Americans. Dr. Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton University, gave examples from his Pulitzer Prize-winning research.
“‘Evicted’ is really a book that starts on the ground and ends on the ground following eight families through the process of eviction. Some are white, some are black, some have kids and some don’t,” he explained.
Professor Desmond aimed to capture a wide array of different scenarios of poverty in his book. “America is weird. We have the richest society with the worst poverty,” he said. “If poverty persists in this country, then it’s not for lack of funding, it’s for something else.”
The effects the high cost of living in New Jersey presents to students weigh heavily on Leanne Fogarty (‘20) who said, “I get really stressed out when I start thinking about how expensive this state is to live in. A lot of post-graduates live with multiple roommates or with their parents until they can afford to live on their own, while in other states like Georgia you can have a full one bedroom apartment for about half the price of one in N.J. It really sucks.”
Tyler Salter (‘19) hopes that Senator Booker’s presence means real legislative change is on the way. He stated, “I personally hope the Senator, with help from other politicians and advisors, can make serious headway and bring housing reforms to make it more difficult to evict tenants and make housing more affordable.”
During the forum, Senator Booker mentioned his own on-going attempts to reach out to Republican senators to help put forth a bill. The Acorn was able to speak to the senator following the forum about potential cross-party progress. When asked if there was any planned legislation in the works, Senator Booker said, “Sadly, no, I don’t have any major story to break for you today, but I have been able to convince some of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle how huge a problem this is in our country.”
With the Trump administration in power, the subject of housing reform has been placed on the backburner with massive cuts coming to programs aimed at assisting the poverty-stricken. The senator shared his thoughts on the rise of Trumpism, stating, “I don’t really think that’s where our country is right now. Trump was able to make it through the primary process due to how spread out the field was. So really, his true supporters only represent a sliver of the national electorate.”