Rilwan Babajide, Elly Blum, Madeline Scher and Hannah Maniates are recent graduates and rising seniors at Wesleyan University.
As part of the Community Research Seminar at Wesleyan University, we examined the effects of eviction on Middlesex County residents. Eviction is not purely about losing one's housing. A “loss of agency” is one of the most pervasive effects of eviction; it is also the hardest to quantify. Additionally, most individuals lose feelings of control as well as a sense of choice and efficacy. Many people who have undergone eviction also suffer from a loss of privacy, a loss of possessions, and a loss of dignity. It’s a feeling of helplessness.
Through our interviews with people who experienced eviction, we concluded that eviction, even if it doesn't always lead to homelessness, is a stressful and profoundly destabilizing event- families are forced to split up, health declines, possessions are lost, and credit scores can be ruined, thus perpetuating poverty.
While there is no single narrative that can explain all experiences, we found that several people were remarkably resilient. Those who were able to overcome eviction often had a support network of family and friends. Social services were crucial in allowing people to get back on their feet. We also found that those who have access to financial assistance, such as one time prevention funds, rapid rehousing and rental vouchers, fare much better than people without this type of support. This study illustrates the negative impacts of eviction in depth. It is necessary to fully understand this issue in order to put an end to the housing crisis in Middlesex county and beyond.
Click here to read the study.
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