Online Custom «Poverty and Inequality in Housing» Essay Sample

Poverty and Inequality in Housing

Inequality has been flourishing in public sector since the slavery abolishment. Even though the government passes different legislation that is meant to improve the lives of the minorities, most of them are still being discriminated against. Many researchers, such as Vincanne Adams, Matthew Desmond, Melvin Oliver, and Thomas Shapiro, have dedicated their works to the problem of poverty and inequality in housing. Even though presenting their arguments in different ways and viewing the same issues from different perspectives, the authors still manage to deliver their key concepts to the readers, thus helping them to evaluate the extent of poverty and inequality in public and social housing.

To begin with, inequality in housing is promoted by the government indirectly, making it impossible to blame the government for discrimination. One of the authors, Vincanne Adams, argues that inequality in housing is an economic rather than social problem. She describes how markets profit from disasters and how humanitarian relief is organized for profit. Adams (2012) uses a personal story of a family that lost their possessions after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Narratives always make arguments more convincing, and this case is not an exception. The Bradlieus’ story helps to understand how exactly inequality in housing affects human lives. Similar negative effect on people’s lives is produced by eviction. Desmond (2012) argues that increased residential mobility can be explained namely by eviction, in addition to “neighborhood dissatisfaction, gentrification, and slum clearance” (p. 90). Being a negative process by itself, eviction also entails loss and inability to get decent housing. It means that one problem that the city government solves (reducing the number of poor neighborhoods) brings about a range of not only similar but also more severe problems. Eventually, everything gets back to the issue of poverty and the increasing number of poor neighborhoods. This is a vicious circle created by an unsolved problem of poverty. To support his arguments, Desmond uses numeric evidence obtained from scholarly sources, which makes the arguments difficult to disagree with. Finally, Oliver and Shapiro (2009) argue that wealth inequality has been present in the American society at every stage of its development, and it has largely contributed to disparities in housing practices in black and white neighborhoods. To support this argument, the authors use data from other studies and reports as well as from political newspapers, which makes it irrefutable and quite convincing. All three sources consider different problems and situations, but they all touch upon the issue of inequality in housing proving that it has always existed in the American society and it still does. 

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What is especially interesting is how one and the same problem can be viewed and presented in different ways. At first glance, the three sources under consideration discuss the problem of race discrimination in housing. However, a more thorough analysis of the information presented in them shows that they approach this problem from different angles. The first tangible difference is the presentation of facts. Adams (2012) tells the stories of the victims of racial inequality. She carries the story of the Bradlieus family throughout her piece of writing making the readers sympathize with the family’s losses and struggles. At this, the author does not directly blame the government or anyone else for the family’s problems. She simply lets the readers see everything through the eyes of the characters. Desmond (2012) has chosen another way of presenting the problem. His article abounds with numbers, data, and statistics that he uses to support his arguments. In this way, the readers not only get exhaustive information about the problem, but are also able to understand its extent and evaluate its consequences: “[N]o single American municipality or country in which someone working full-time for minimum wage could afford a one-bedroom home by dedicating only a third of her or his income to rent” (Desmond, 2012, p. 123). Such manner of presentation helps the readers make conclusions themselves. In contrast, Oliver and Shapiro (2009) use historical facts when discussing the problem of poverty and inequality in housing. They describe the events that followed the Civil War, the passage of the Homestead Act, and its contribution to the disposition of public lands. This helps the readers to trace the development of the problem since its origin. Supporting their ideas by historical facts, the authors prove their point without having to convince the readers of the rightness of their ideas. While all these authors use their own ways of presenting the same problem, their pieces of writing have one common trait. None of them imposes any opinions on the readers. Instead, the readers can shape their own opinions about the problem basing on the stories or facts presented in the writings.

Quite helpful in this is considering concepts in the readings under analysis. They are united by one common idea that racial inequality in housing  is manifested in many ways, but none of these ways makes it possible to blame the government or private sector for discrimination. With respect to this, the key concept of Adams’ article is that markets are profiting from the poor, and, since this social class is largely constituted by the minorities, racial discrimination is also a part of this problem: “Poverty is turned into a problem of entrepreneurialism, and disasters are tuned into market opportunities for profit, while government funding fuels capital accumulation in the corporate sector at the expense of many in communities like New Orleans” (Adams, 2012, p. 186). Thus, the needy are used for the production of capital, especially in case of disasters when new businesses grow at the market and enrich themselves at the expense of the people’s sorrow. In other words, businessmen who help the poor do this to get profits from their help. According to Oliver and Shapiro (2009), the government works in a similar way. The key concept introduced in their work is that none of the organizations founded as well as none of the legal acts passed was ever aimed at promoting racial justice.

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