During the past decade, the incomes of poor Americans have fallen or flat-lined, housing costs have soared and public policy has failed to bridge the gap. As a result, the majority of poor renting families in America now devote at least half of their income to covering housing costs, and eviction has become a common yet consequential event in their lives. While housing is central to the lives of the urban poor, it remains marginal to the sociology of American inequality. This essay begins by charting the growing rent burden among low-income households, and then draws on the unique contributions of Pierre Bourdieu to the study of the home to sketch an agenda for analyzing the roots and implications of the loss of affordable urban housing, a prerequisite for offering policy prescriptions.
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