Ending Poverty in America Requires Grassroots Activism

What causes poverty and how do we fix it? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond has dedicated years to answering these critical questions.

“I think we actively benefit from poverty,” Desmond said in a recent Helen Edison Lecture Series discussion at UC San Diego Park and Market. “Not because we want to…often it’s unwitting. I’ve just become so tired of anything that lets us off the hook.”

In his latest book, “Poverty, by America,” Desmond explores the persistence of poverty in the U.S., despite an abundance of research identifying its causes. He argues we can end poverty through grassroots activism and a willingness to target systems that perpetuate it, like local zoning laws.

“I’d like [those of] us who are not poor to take some more personal responsibility for this,” he said. “I think the more of us that can get some skin in the game and realize that we’re connected to the problem – and the solution – I think it could really matter.”

Desmond was catapulted into the national spotlight as a leading authority on modern American poverty with the 2016 debut of his Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

Watch Poverty in America with Matthew Desmond.