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Why Black Women Are More Likely to Face Eviction

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A woman stares off to the left while sitting on a bed. She is wearing a white shirt, and her hair is in braids.
Jean Kendrick sits in the Richmond hotel room that she and her son Stanley have shared for the past seven months, on July 15, 2021, as they prepare to move to a Project Roomkey hotel nearby. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Evictions do not affect everyone equally.

Millions of renters in this country have struggled to make rent after losing income during the pandemic. And Black renters, particularly Black women, are more likely to be evicted than white renters.

Jean Kendrick and her son were evicted during the early days of the pandemic. We follow their journey to find affordable housing, while examining the factors driving the racial disparities in eviction rates — including generations of racist housing policies and predatory home lending practices. 


A quick note before we begin: This episode includes descriptions of violence and attempted suicide.


(Music in)

MOLLY SOLOMON, HOST: It’s July 30, 2021 — the last Friday before Congress breaks for summer vacation. But not Congresswoman Cori Bush.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE CORI BUSH: We are out here, we want to continue to be out here. I’m calling on my colleagues, Congress members, if you support this, come back out here and be with us today. 

ERIN BALDASSARI, HOST: The representative from St. Louis, Missouri, was standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and she was calling on Congress to come back and do their jobs. 

CORI: Come back out here because we need to be brought back to this house to finish this work so that people don’t end up on the street while we go vacation. We cannot go on vacation while people are at risk.

MOLLY: She’s talking about the millions of renters in this country, disproportionately Black and Brown families, struggling to make rent after losing income during the pandemic. They had been protected from eviction for more than a year, but those protections were about to expire if Congress didn’t act.

(Music out)

(Sounds from the organized sit-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to extend the eviction moratorium, August 2021.)

ERIN: The congresswoman wasn’t alone — there were protesters, too, with signs and sleeping bags. And they stayed there for five days, in the cold, in the rain.

CORI: Here we are. We’re still out here. It is pouring, it’s pouring on us. 

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri (center), speaks at a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. Bush slept on the steps of the Capitol for days to protest that the CDC’s eviction moratorium was being allowed to expire. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: We cannot have these people lose their homes.

JOYCE BEATTY: Fifty-seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus all supported extending the moratorium.

MOLLY: We spoke to the Congresswoman a few months after the protest. She said sleeping on the steps of the Capitol brought back memories.

(Music in)

CORI: Once the temperature started to drop, I was triggered.

MOLLY: Almost two decades ago, Congresswoman Cori Bush was an unhoused single mom, living out of her Ford Explorer with two young kids.

CORI: It took me back to those moments when I was cold and sleeping in a car, wondering if my babies were warm enough. Not having enough blankets, no matter how many blankets we put on us, no matter how many items of clothing that we pulled out of the trash bags that were in the car to cover it — you know, it was just like you just couldn’t get warm enough.

ERIN: Not only has Bush been homeless, she’s been evicted — three times. Before she was elected to Congress, she was a nurse and a Black Lives Matter activist.

CORI: I kept thinking, who speaks for us? Who speaks for us? Who speaks for single parents? Who speaks for Black women? Who speaks for us?

ERIN: For all the women who’ve been through what she’s been through. 

CORI: The number of Black women that I know, just through the course of my life, who’ve been evicted from homes is very high.

MOLLY: And the data backs that up. Even before the pandemic, Black women were the most vulnerable to job loss, most likely to be single heads of households and most likely to be evicted.

Research from the ACLU and Princeton’s Eviction Lab show Black women renters get evicted at twice the rate of white renters.

But that story that Cori Bush has lived, and seen all around her, it’s not a new one. 

CORI: This has been going on since America, since the United States of America, that there has been this discrimination, harmful policies that have been put in place to make sure that there is a group that is supreme in this country. 

(Music out)

ERIN: Bush’s protests caught the attention of the nation, including President Joe Biden, who extended the eviction moratorium one final time.

(Sold Out theme song begins.)

MOLLY: Her protest got us thinking a lot about who is on the receiving end of an eviction order. And what we learned is that evictions do not affect everyone equally.

MOLLY: I’m Molly Solomon.

ERIN: And I’m Erin Baldassari.

You’re listening to Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America. And this season, we’re taking a closer look at evictions: who they happen to, and what that says about inequality in this country.

ERIN: In this episode, we’ll look at how Black women are more likely to be evicted, and why they are more likely to be renters in the first place.

MOLLY: For the last year and a half, I’ve been following one woman and her son after they were evicted. Her story tells us a lot about the causes of an eviction, and the consequences.

And how even when you think you’ve done everything right, you can still lose it all.

(Sold Out theme song ends.)

Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America is a five-part series reimagining what housing could be by examining California, the epicenter of the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

(Sounds: Someone knocks on a door and says, “Hi, Jean!”)

MOLLY: The first time I met Jean Kendrick in person last summer, she greeted me with a warm smile and a hug. It was exciting to finally see each other. We’d been talking on the phone for months. But with the pandemic, we’d kept our distance. Once we were finally vaccinated, I went to see her.

JEAN: In this room right now, we’re in the bedroom. Right now we’re in the living room. (Laughs)

MOLLY: We met in Jean’s room at an Extended Stay hotel in Richmond, California, a city north of Oakland. The building is three stories high, plain, with a big parking lot. Jean’s room is close to the lobby on the first floor.

JEAN: And then that’s the kitchenette. And then there’s a bathroom.

MOLLY: Yeah, it’s all one room.

JEAN: All one room!

STANLEY JACKSON III: The master dining room is over here. 

MOLLY: That’s her son Stanley, making a joke that the corner of the room with a side table is the master dining room.

It can be hard to understand Stanley when he speaks. That’s because when he was 19, he got in a major car accident. He was hit by a street sweeper. Now he’s 43 and lives with a traumatic brain injury. He’s partially paralyzed on the right side of his body and uses a power wheelchair to get around.

STANLEY: I have a traumatic brain injury and I suffer seizures. So I definitely need someone to stay with me at all times.

A mother and her son standing in front of a building. The woman is holding onto this wheelchair handles. They are both wearing masks.
Jean Kendrick and her son Stanley at an Extended Stay America in Richmond on Dec. 22, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

MOLLY: That person is Jean. Taking care of Stanley comes naturally to her. She’s retired now, but for nearly 40 years she was a nurse.

JEAN: I loved the idea that I was helping people. And when I originally, back in ‘71, when I first became a nurse, it was actually bedside hands-on care. I like the idea that you go in there and you give a back rub, you turn the patient over.

MOLLY: Jean never expected to be 70 years old and living out of a hotel room with her adult son.

JEAN: This was supposed to have been like a temporary stop until we got something. 

MOLLY: How long did you think you’d stay here?

JEAN: A month at the most. A month turned into seven months. 

MOLLY: They’ve been living here since they were evicted.

Evicted from the two-bedroom duplex they shared, a short 15-minute drive from here. It was public housing, and the rent was less than $200 a month. It was something they could afford on Jean’s Social Security income and Stanley’s disability checks.

ERIN: A quick note before we go any further: This story of Jean and Stanley’s eviction is complicated. And what we’ve learned is that every eviction is. Theirs started in 2019 — before the pandemic. But it kept getting pushed back once COVID-19 hit. 

Stanley had gotten into a dispute with his neighbor, and the police were called. According to the police report, the neighbor sprayed Stanley in the face with bug spray, and she stabbed him with a corkscrew.

MOLLY: What happened next sparked off more than two years of legal battles that included their eviction, plus a felony charge against Stanley. We tried to speak to the Housing Authority about what happened, but they said they couldn’t comment because of federal privacy laws. 

ERIN: So we put in a public records request and got court tape from their eviction hearing.

JUDGE IN EVICTION COURT: The court’s going to call the matter of the Housing Authority of the City of Richmond vs. Stanley Jackson and Jean Kendrick. 

ERIN: The property manager testified that Stanley had been called into a meeting to talk about the incident with the neighbor. Things got heated, and Stanley lost his temper and started swearing.

PROPERTY MANAGER IN EVICTION COURT: And then he pushed the table, wheeled his wheelchair around towards me. I stood up and backed up towards my wall. And he pulled his wheelchair up to me and kicked me about three to four times.

ERIN: This is ultimately what prompted their eviction. It was a violation of Stanley’s lease. 

Jean knows Stanley has a temper, and when he feels threatened or misunderstood, he can lash out. This stems from his bipolar disorder and his traumatic brain injury.

Jean said she asked the Housing Authority to include her in any meetings with him. But that didn’t happen this time.

JEAN: And he’s not to actually talk to anyone unless he has someone there, because sometimes you can’t understand him. And he gets frustrated when you have to keep, “What did you say? What did you say?” He gets frustrated at me. But I’m around him, I can understand him a little bit better. 

MOLLY: She felt like, if they had done that, and she had been with him, none of this would have happened. 

(Music in)

JEAN: For them to have evicted him knowing our situation was cruel and unjust punishment, especially during a pandemic. Where is your heart?

A woman sits on a bed in a hotel room, surrounded by her belongings.
Jean Kendrick sits on the bed in her hotel room on July 15, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

(Sound: Rain falling)

MOLLY: The day of the eviction was a rainy Sunday morning, a couple of weeks before Christmas 2020. Sheriff deputies were scheduled to show up to change the locks at 6 a.m. Jean and Stanley woke up early to start moving everything into a storage unit.

JEAN: That day was very depressing.

ERIN: She and Stanley had nowhere to go. When they looked around at other housing in the Bay Area, everything was too expensive. Which is how they ended up in the hotel room at the Extended Stay.

After we first reported on Jean and Stanley’s story, people heard it on the radio and found their GoFundMe page. Close to $14,000 came in, a lot of it from strangers. But they burned through it in a matter of months. 

JEAN: We’re paying $805 a week here, and so that’s depleted. Everything that we had from GoFundMe, that’s depleted. Everything is gone, you know.

MOLLY: They were paying more than $3,000 a month for their room at the Extended Stay Hotel — that’s more than most people pay for a mortgage. Jean told me she was shopping for a tent and thought about moving into her car. And she worried a lot about what would happen to both of them if they ended up on the street. 

JEAN: Because we can’t be on the street. He has a power wheelchair that has to be charged every night. I got a CPAP machine to breathe at night, so if we go out, if we live on the street, we’re dead.

MOLLY: Jean has diabetes. Hypertension. She can’t stand for long because of her back. She had surgery on it before the eviction began, but it never really healed and she’s constantly in pain.

JEAN: My doctor’s checking because my blood pressure is high again, and so is the stress level. Like I keep telling people, I’ve never had to go through this before, and not knowing which avenues to take, and the ins and outs, it’s hard. Not even my worst enemy, I wouldn’t wish this on.

MOLLY: Jean and Stanley are among the millions of people who get evicted every year in this country. There are many reasons why, but the biggest is failure to pay rent. 

And for everyone who is evicted, it’s about more than losing the roof over your head. It affects all aspects of your life, including your health.

EMILY BENFER: Especially for someone who already has comorbidities, so who’s already suffering from other impairments or disabilities.

ERIN: Emily Benfer is a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University. She’s spent a lot of time researching the intersection of housing and health.

When she says “comorbidities,” she’s referring to things like cardiac disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disease. Conditions that would put you at a higher risk of death or serious illness if you were evicted.

EMILY: Housing is critical. It’s how you refrigerate your medication, it’s how you plug in a nebulizer for respiratory distress. It’s how you keep yourself safe from environmental harm. It’s that sense of stability that can improve mental health outcomes.

ERIN: Studies have shown that an eviction can even take years off your life. That losing your housing or even just the threat of it can result in a higher mortality rate. It can also bring on depression. 

MOLLY: And that was definitely true for Jean. 

JEAN: Even though I’m in Extended Stay and we have a place to sleep right now, it’s not like resting sleep. I keep telling my son, yes, I’m laying down. And you may hear me snoring but I’m not resting. I’m exhausted. 

MOLLY: It’s impacting Stanley, too.

STANLEY: This hotel living is not for me. I’ve never lived like this before in my life. This is not the life for me.

A woman holds a room card for the Extended Stay hotel chain.
Jean Kendrick holds the hotel key for her room on July 15, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

MOLLY: Stanley says he’s also ashamed that they ended up here. And that they got evicted in the first place. He has two kids and he hasn’t told them that he and Jean are living out of this hotel.

STANLEY: I want them to be proud of me. I don’t want them to look down on me.

MOLLY: Jean told me his moods have gotten worse. For a while, he talked about suicide. And then, he tried to swallow a bottle of medication. He had to go to the hospital. He’s doing better now but he still needs his mom’s help.

JEAN: I have to be the strong one for both of us and continually talk him down off of that ledge that he’s on. 

MOLLY: Coming up, we break down why evictions keep happening to families like Jean’s.

It’s about making rent, and so much more.

Stay tuned.


ERIN: Evictions do not affect everyone equally. When you go to eviction court, you’ll see that the majority of people being evicted are Black women and other women of color.

We spoke to people who research these inequities. People like Kristen Broady, she’s a professor of financial economics and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. She says part of this is about money.

KRISTEN: When we think about evictions and why people get evicted, you have to look at how much of their income are they spending on rent? How much savings do they have? What is their income, what is their employment and corresponding unemployment rate?

MOLLY: She says low wages and high rents explain why 60% of Black women renters are cost-burdened. Meaning they pay at least a third of their income on housing — that’s more than any other group.

Broady says it’s not just how much Black women earn, it’s also about the jobs that are available.

KRISTEN: We know that Black people, and particularly women, have higher unemployment rates compared to the white population, have lower incomes, are concentrated in jobs that are customer facing and at higher risk of automation, like cashiers or secretaries and service workers.

ERIN: Another reason why women are more likely than men to face eviction: having kids at home.

Sandra Park is a senior attorney with the ACLU. She says landlords often associate children with all kinds of problems. 

SANDRA: Whether it’s property damage or noise, as well as being concerned that the presence of children may attract more attention from the state. Whether that means Child Protective Services, law enforcement, health inspectors, or related to lead poisoning.

MOLLY: And there’s one more reason that we see more Black women being evicted. And it starts with calling 911 for help.

Some cities have laws against the police showing up at a home too many times — regardless of the cause. They’re called nuisance ordinances or crime-free policies.

ERIN: They were designed to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who were engaged in drug dealing or fights or were getting the cops called on them a lot. But the problem is, the largest number of calls come from people reporting domestic violence. And even if you are calling for help, you can still get thrown out.

MOLLY: And Sandra Park has seen the tragic consequences of how this can play out. She had a client in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Lakisha Briggs, who was being assaulted by an abusive ex-boyfriend.

SANDRA: And the police arrived. They arrested him. But then the officer also told her that she was on three strikes and she could face eviction.

MOLLY: When Lakisha learned this, she stopped calling the police. She didn’t want to get kicked out of her home. And then things got so bad. Her partner attacked her and stabbed her in the neck. Even then, she refused to call the police. It was a neighbor who called 911 and Lakisha was airlifted to the hospital.

PARK: Her life was luckily saved. But when she returned to her house, her landlord gave her an eviction notice.

ERIN: Park sued the city of Norristown and got them to strike down the crime-free housing policy. And she’s been leading the ACLU’s national effort against these ordinances.

She says they don’t really stop crime. And research shows they’re more often enforced in Black neighborhoods than white ones, so they add to the disproportionate rate of eviction, especially for Black women.

MOLLY: But Kristen Broady says this is not just about economics or overpolicing. The real reason we see more Black women evicted?

KRISTEN: Well, I think that’s easy. And the answer is racism.

Black women have been the caretakers, as I said, from the time of enslavement. Black women have been used and abused from enslavement through Reconstruction and through the civil rights movement.

And even today, we are the caretakers for this society. But providing that care doesn’t mean that there is reciprocity. That doesn’t mean that we’re cared for when we need something. And that’s always been the problem in this country.

MOLLY: And when you think about it, Jean is the embodiment of this. A nurse for 40 years who in her retirement is taking care of her adult son. They’re now living with the consequences of a system that’s stacked against her.

ERIN: In his book “Evicted,” sociologist Matthew Desmond wrote that eviction is not just the result of poverty, it’s also a cause. An eviction can lead to a job loss. It’s linked to homelessness. 

MOLLY: Families lose neighborhoods, their schools, their community. People who are evicted tend to move into worse neighborhoods with higher crime.

ERIN: And an eviction can follow you for years. It’s sometimes referred to as the scarlet E — a stubborn mark on a tenant’s rental history that shows up when a landlord screens them.

MOLLY: For Jean and Stanley, it’s been really hard to find new housing. Housing is so expensive in the Bay Area, and there’s not a lot they can afford.

Back in their hotel room, Jean pulls up an app on her phone.

JEAN: See, it has all of these different listings throughout the United States.

MOLLY: Oh! So you’re looking everywhere? This is Minnesota.

JEAN: Yeah. 

MOLLY: The app allows her to apply for Section 8 or low-income housing anywhere in the country.

JEAN: I’ve applied to a lot of them. And there’s some that have a year’s waiting list, sometimes five year’s waiting lists. And then I just put in …

MOLLY: Five years?

JEAN: Yeah, five years. People are going to just sit there and go like this, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for someone to call them.

MOLLY: She thinks she’s applied to 24 places — so many that she had to buy a printer to keep track of all of them. But most places never got back to her at all. She thinks it’s because of their eviction.

ERIN: There’s usually a box you check on an application. Jean figures it’s better to mark it than leave it blank and have the eviction show up on her background check. She told me about this one place in the Bay Area — she called and they told her there was an opening. 

JEAN: And then when I sent them the application, it said eviction. They said, “Oh, we don’t have anything. There’s a year waiting list.”

MOLLY: Jean didn’t always have to scramble like this for a place to live. Before living in this hotel room, before living in public housing, Jean owned her own home. 

Coming up: what caused her to lose it all. 


A woman is looking over her groceries while standing in her hotel room kitchen.
Jean Kendrick cleans the kitchen at her Extended Stay hotel room in Richmond on July 15, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

MOLLY: Jean Kendrick used to own a home way up in the Oakland Hills. It was a three-bedroom ranch with a big yard that looked out toward San Francisco. 

JEAN: They said it was the size of, a little less than the size of a football field. When I first moved up there, my legs would get so tired just walking to the house.

MOLLY: It was a nice neighborhood, with lots of families. Jean liked how quiet and peaceful it was up there.

JEAN: It had a nice view so that when the sun went down, you can see the orange and I had this tree. You know, you see the picture with the black tree and then the orange background? That’s the way it looked, and I wish I would have took a picture.

MOLLY: It was Jean’s sister-in-law who bought it in the ’80s. 

JEAN: Yeah, she bought the house for $150,000.

MOLLY: Now that same house is worth over $1.6 million. Jean and her husband inherited the house from his sister. And they put a lot of love into the house, adding a walk-in tub and a dishwasher. 

JEAN: Because I was putting things in there so that I would be comfortable when I retire.

MOLLY: Jean and her husband lived there over a decade, until he passed away. The troubles started when the house needed a new roof. It was going to cost $14,000. So in 2007, Jean took out a loan on the house to pay for it.

JEAN: I had one of those mortgages that was flexible instead of fixed.

MOLLY: She says the mortgage company talked her into it. They told her you can keep this rate for six months, then we’ll get you into a fixed rate. It seemed fine at the time — she could manage the payments, about $1,000 a month. But then the payments went way up.

JEAN: And when it went up to $3,333 a month, I couldn’t afford it anymore.

MOLLY: In 2010, like so many homeowners, Jean lost her dream house to foreclosure. She filed for bankruptcy, sold the house in a quick sale, and moved into a rental.

JEAN: At the time, it’s like a shock to your system and you’re perceived as it’s only happening to me, and I’m a loser, I failed.

ERIN: But it wasn’t just happening to Jean. 

JACOB FABER: This story is a real and devastating illustration of a broader pattern.

ERIN: Jacob Faber is a sociologist at New York University who studies housing and racial inequality. He says the story of what happened to Jean during the Great Recession was happening to a lot of American families. And it hit Black families like Jean’s especially hard.

JACOB: People of color, primarily Blacks and Latinos, were targeted for these predatory mortgage loans.

MOLLY: In the wake of the financial crisis, waves of foreclosures sank Black homeownership rates, which hit record lows. Faber analyzed millions of loan applications and found that Black households were more than twice as likely to get a riskier subprime loan than white applicants, even if they had higher incomes.

JACOB: And so that’s why, for example, we see that Blacks and Latinos in 2006 who are making $250,000 a year were more likely to get subprime loans than white borrowers making $35,000 a year.

ERIN: It wasn’t just who was being targeted, but where. This subprime lending crisis hit the exact same neighborhoods that have long faced discrimination. And still do today.

JACOB: I would argue that one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason, is this weight of history.

MOLLY: History that goes back to the 1930s — back to when our country first invested in who they thought deserved to own a home, and who didn’t. 

(Sounds: Trumpets, audio recordings reminiscent of Great Depression-era films. Male narrator: “The story of homes, and how people live, is a story of the foundation on which a nation is built.”)

ERIN: The federal government wanted banks to make it easier for people to afford their homes because they saw homeownership as a way to lift people out of the Great Depression. To make that happen, they created the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. At the time, it was a revolutionary idea.

(Sounds: Trumpets, audio recordings reminiscent of Great Depression-era films. Male narrator: “And now through the use of the National Housing Act, insured mortgage is brought within the reach of all citizens on a monthly payment plan no greater than rent.”)

CHLOE THURSTON: A house is a very expensive consumer good, right? 

ERIN: Chloe Thurston is an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University.

CHLOE: Most of us cannot afford to buy a house outright in cash. You know, if someone asked you to pay for a house, you probably don’t have the money to just buy it. And so as a result, most of us have to get financing from somewhere.

ERIN: But, to make the banks happy, the government also had to promise to pay them for any borrowers who defaulted.

CHLOE: It ensures private lenders to loan to citizens, but on certain conditions.

MOLLY: Conditions explicitly based on race. It was the practice we know as redlining, where the government backed loans for homes in some neighborhoods — the ones where white families lived. And labeled the places where Black families lived as too risky.

By 1950, 98% of those loans had gone to white families. And many of them had left for the suburbs. 

In cities, Black families and immigrants were confined to old and deteriorating housing. Landlords jacked up the rent, bleeding Black families dry.

ERIN: You can hear stories of housing struggles in songs and poems from this time, including this reading of Langston Hughes’s famous poem “Ballad of the Landlord.”

(Music in)

(Sound: Person reads “Ballad of the Landlord”:

“Landlord, landlord,
My roof has sprung a leak.
Don’t you ‘member I told you about it
Way last week?

“Landlord, landlord,
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It’s a wonder you don’t fall down. 

“Ten Bucks you say I owe you?
Ten Bucks you say is due?
Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’ll pay you
Til you fix this house up new. 

“What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?”

(Music out)

ERIN: Hughes also wrote about rent parties, where Black households in places like Harlem invited musicians to play, to help pay for high rents. Housing was so overcrowded that sometimes two, three, four families lived under one roof.  

CHLOE: So we know that housing could be very overcrowded, that people weren’t necessarily paying less just because they were living in, you know, what we would consider to be substandard housing. They were actually, in many cases, paying more.

ERIN: Paying more for housing that was in some cases uninhabitable.

CHLOE: Reports of issues like rats and not just cracking paint, but crumbling ceilings. Houses without things we would take for granted, like floors or without sort of working plumbing, things like that.

MOLLY: Shut out from conventional home loans, Black families who did become homeowners were often steered to real estate schemes with steep interest rates, where houses could be quickly repossessed with just one missed payment.

ERIN: Even though Congress passed the Fair Housing Act back in 1968, realtors and lenders continue to discriminate. Today, Black homes are undervalued. Realtors continue to steer people to segregated neighborhoods. And Black communities are still reeling from the foreclosure crisis.

Being shut out from homeownership — what is probably the single biggest investment a person will make — has huge and lasting consequences.

CHLOE: If we think about the effects of these laws, it is to lock out from what ended up being this really great opportunity for asset and wealth building, also for living in neighborhoods where public goods are sort of well provided. It locks many people out from those opportunities. And many of those who are locked out from those opportunities are Black women.

(Music in)

MOLLY: Jean still thinks about her old Oakland house with the big yard. As painful as it was to lose the house, it made her feel better that it went to a young family with kids.

JEAN: I’d always see the vision of kids playing in the backyard. And I said it needs to have a family in it. 

MOLLY: Sometimes she would drive up there to pick up old mail. The family was always nice and welcomed her. But after a while, it stopped feeling like her home.

JEAN: And when I started seeing them make changes, I couldn’t go up there anymore because it was, I said here I worked 13 years to get it this way and you’re moving it around. So, you know, I stopped.

A woman pushes her son on his wheelchair in a hotel parking lot.
Jean Kendrick and her son Stanley at an Extended Stay America in Richmond on Dec. 22, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

MOLLY: If Jean still had her home in the Oakland hills today, things might look different for her and Stanley. They’d have a roof over their heads. They’d have something to help them pay for a medical emergency. Jean could make plans.

And most of all, Jean wouldn’t have to worry about Stanley, and whether he had a safe and affordable place to live.

ERIN: They did get a break last summer. They moved into a nearby hotel as part of a program that provides free housing for people who are homeless. Jean and Stanley have a caseworker.

But the place they’re staying at is temporary. And it’s still not their home.

MOLLY: Home is something that comes up a lot when I talk to Jean. It’s something that feels out of reach. But, she’s hoping that wherever they land next, it’ll be their forever home.

JEAN: Home means knowing that the rent isn’t outrageous and that we have a roof over our head, something that’s safe. That would be a blessing. I’ve lived in all kinds of places, and like my mansion up on the hill, I’m not looking for that. I’m just looking for something that’s comfortable.

(Music out)

(Sold Out theme song begins.)

ERIN: Next time on Sold Out: Evictions don’t just happen to people. There’s someone on the other end: Landlords.  

DONNA RIDGE: That’s not my problem. My problem is that you need to pay your rent, and you need to pay it on time like everybody else does. That’s the way it works.

KEVIN DAVIDSON: That’s why we give them every opportunity to pay. But if they don’t, then they can’t live there for free.

DESIREE FIELDS: So just by virtue of, you know, having the resources to, you know, to purchase a property and own it, landlords are able to charge tenants for access to something that’s a fundamental human need, right? Like we all need someplace to live.

PHILIP GARBODEN: There’s big differences in how landlords do eviction based on who that landlord is.

ERIN: We’ll look at who owns rental property, how it’s changing, and why that matters for tenants. 

Sold Out is a production of KQED.

This episode was written and reported by us, Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari.

Adhiti Bandlamudi produced this episode. Kyana Moghadam is our senior producer. Brendan Willard is our sound engineer. Rob Speight wrote our theme song. Natalia Aldana is our senior engagement producer, and Gerald Fermin is our engagement intern.

MOLLY: Thanks to our editor, Erika Kelly. Additional editing from Jessica Placzek and Otis Taylor Jr.

If you liked this episode, we think you’ll like another podcast from KQED, American Suburb. A big thank-you to Sandhya Dirks, whose previous reporting on Antioch really helped guide us.

ERIN: We couldn’t have made this season without Ethan Toven-Lindsey, Holly Kernan, Erika Aguilar and Vinnee Tong.


Thanks for listening! We’ll see you next week.

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