Poverty In-service Materials


Book: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.


I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.

New York Times Magazine article by Anthony Abraham Jack

Schools must learn that when you come from poverty, you need more than financial aid to succeed.

Colleges have made racial and class diversity into virtues with which they welcome students during orientation and entice alumni to make donations. But students of color and those from lower-income backgrounds often bear the brunt of the tension that exists between proclamation and practice of this social experiment.


Book: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

by Stephanie Lamb

Recommended by a CAC volunteer, Maid is a memoir written by a single mom who suddenly finds herself homeless and unable to find a job. She turns to housekeeping to make ends meet, and to be able to keep her child. In this book she that tells the “stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn’t feel lucky at all.”

Maid also “explores the secret underbelly of upper middle class Americans and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them”.


Study brief: Raising the minimum wage would reduce child neglect cases

Study brief from IU Bloomington

Raising the minimum wage by $1 per hour would result in a substantial decrease in the number of reported cases of child neglect, according to a new study co-authored by an Indiana University researcher.

"Money matters," Bullinger said. "When caregivers have more disposable income, they're better able to provide a child's basic needs such as clothing, food, medical care and a safe home. Policies that increase the income of the working poor can improve children's welfare, especially younger children, quite substantially."


NYTimes Op-Ed by Emma Ketteringham

There is a misconception that the child-protection system is broken because child services fails to protect children from dangerous homes. That’s because the media exhaustively covers child deaths, but not the everyday tragedy of unnecessary child removals.

The problem is not that child services fails to remove enough children. It’s that the agency has not been equipped to address the daily manifestations of economic and racial inequality. Instead, it is designed to treat structural failings as the personal flaws of low-income parents.


Book: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

by J. D. Vance  


From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. Vance compellingly describes the terrible toll that alcoholism and drug abuse took on his family.