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‘Evicted’ exhibit at JSU documents plight of residents forced from their homes in the state and nation

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Researchers estimate that 30-40 million Americans are at risk of eviction.

COVID-19 increased the odds for those already struggling to pay their rent. It’s the subject of an exhibit at JSU, where the school is offering programs to offset the plight captured in the images on display.

Eddie Brown is days away from leaving his Vintage Apartment.

“They sent the notice saying they were not renewing any leases after August 4,” said Brown. “So I took that as an eviction notice.”

The 67-year-old is among the 2.3 million Americans who face eviction each year. Stories like his are depicted in the traveling exhibit “Evicted” currently on display at Jackson State University.

It examines the forced removal of families from their homes through non-payment due to job loss or other plans by the owner. The exhibit is based on Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name.

The pandemic has amplified the eviction problem among the low income and minorities.

“I’m really having a hard time,” said “Jane,” another Vintage Apartment tenant. “The pandemic just got over but it’s kinda crazy how I have to pay just to live here, and then find me somewhere else to go.”

“Upwards of 50 percent of Mississippi renters may face evictions this year due to the pandemic itself,” said Margaret Walker Center Director Dr. Robert Luckett. “That’s a staggering number”.

The Jackson State University history professor said the pandemic has greatly impacted children who lost the safe space of school during virtual learning.

“The devastation of eviction on top of that is going to create a cycle of poverty for that child that will be incredibly difficult to escape over the person lifetime,” said Luckett.

2016 data, used in the exhibit, documented nearly 35,000 evictions in Mississippi. Cases that often led to an increase in the homeless population. “Evicted” is on display through October 3.

For more information contact the Margaret Walker Center at 601-979-3935 or go to mwa@jsums.org.

JSU plans to offer programs over the next few months to connect those facing eviction or have been evicted with community activists and organizations to provide resources for recovery.

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