Austin is known as a city of renters — more than half of residents lease a place to live. And each day, a dozen Travis County families are evicted. Audrey McGlinchy of KUT decided to explore what happens when someone can no longer pay the rent, and got to know several people facing eviction.
As a part of KERA’s One Crisis Away project, she spoke about her series: “Five Days To Vacate.”
On what sparked her interest in reporting the eviction series: “There were a lot of national conversations going on about evictions. A guy by the name of Matthew Desmond who is a sociologist at Princeton University came out with a book called 'Evicted.' And then he and a bunch of other researchers opened what’s called 'Eviction Lab.'
"Their aim is to gather national data on evictions. So it was that national conversation going on paired with the fact that local elected officials here in Austin were becoming more and more interested in evictions and starting to pass some new measures, things like eviction counseling, to kind of get at folks who were threatened by eviction.”
On a woman she met while reporting the series: “This was a woman named Karen Woodward. She was living with an ex-husband, they were trying to reconcile their relationship, things didn’t work out, they had a big fight and he left. At the same time that that happened, she defaulted on a student loan, on a loan she took out for nursing school, and so she was getting some of her wages garnished. She ended up living out of her car for a couple of weeks, she actually was living up on the street for a couple of weeks before she ended up staying with a guy that she met, just staying in his trailer.
"But a lot of what she went through as someone who was working at the time speaks to what a lot of research tells us about how eviction furthers poverty. So it goes without saying that poverty can lead to eviction, a lot of people including Matthew Desmond, who I mentioned earlier, have pointed out that eviction furthers poverty. Meaning that when someone has the the stress of not having a place to live or even having the option of taking a shower, that that added stress really makes it hard to keep down a job.”