A Home of Their Own | Evicted by Matthew Desmond
It’s clear that housing, healthcare, education, and justice are all interconnected. Access to safe, clean, and affordable housing provides a multitude of benefits: better nutrition, physical safety, less stress, the ability to save money, and the stability to take few days off once in a while. The stories in Evicted and A Home of Their Own will illustrate how most Americans are one check away from financial disaster. Because landlords will not accept partial payment, many low-income renters who are short $100 or $200 are evicted from their homes. Having an eviction on record has long, negative effects, which often result in debt collection, garnishment of wages, and not being able find a place to live.
Housing is no longer simply a shelter – it is an investment in someone’s portfolio. Your book group will discover the inequalities that take place in the rental market from high rents controlled exclusively by developers and big apartment complexes to accessing rental assistance and housing close to work. Many renters pay high rent to live in inhabitable places with absentee landlords. Your awareness of these issues will increase your capacity to best help those in crisis, challenge detrimental mentalities, and build inclusive communities.
FRONTLINE: Coronavirus Pandemic | Various Articles (provided in box)
Frontline’s Coronavirus Pandemic documents how we first encountered and responded to COVID-19 in the U.S. It tells the story of people and place; a President, a Governor, and a Mayor, physicians and patients, Washington State and Washington D.C. It’s a narrative that reveals contrasting personal and policy responses to the tension between fear and responsibility, trust and distrust, urgency and uncertainty. The four complementary texts, by award-winning journalists, authors, and historians, put the present pandemic in the historical context of the plagues that preceded it. They focus on how epidemics differ, the common public and political responses they engender, and the profound social changes they may leave as their legacy. Watched, read, and discussed together, these stories reveal that the disturbing responses we see are not unprecedented or unpredicted. They offer the opportunity to learn lessons from the past and acknowledge unresolved problems revealed by the present. They show that pandemics can leave an unexpected legacy. They enable us to make better preparedness and better health, safety, and opportunity for everyone the legacy of our current pandemic.
Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story | The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir* by Thi Bui
The current political discourse around immigration is divisive not only in America but worldwide. Both Bui’s story and Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story movingly puts a human face to new arrivals in our country, illuminating the background of their lives and their struggles. It explores immigration and the many effects it has on people who are displaced. Their stories address relatable universal struggles, including family sacrifices, difficulties in communication in a new country and between parents and children, personal failings, and the importance of identity and belonging. These stories remind us that we all share a common goal: to seek a better future for ourselves and our families. Refugees are not a statistic nor are they “the other” but part of our society as a whole. These stories prompt us to ponder what it means to be a refugee now in America. What hardships does a person suffer that force one to flee home for a better life in the United States and what is it like to assimilate in a new country when some of its citizens don’t want you here?
*This book is a graphic novel, appropriate for both teens and adults.