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Growing Our Understanding

Dylan Novacek August 28, 2020

Evicted Reading Group Reflection with Guest Blogger Shana Wagner, House of Hope Lutheran Church

Members of Beacon’s collaborative came together to study Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. With issues of racial injustice at the forefront, participants aimed to educate themselves on the harsh realities of the inequities many face, as to better serve our shared Beacon mission.

Meeting weekly with Congregational Organizer Elizabeth Tannen and intern Ella Boyer, our participants engaged in serious discussions on the impacts of evictions, racist housing systems, and more. Aided by additional readings, documentaries, and podcasts, the participants earned a greater understanding of how we seek to move forward in our vision that all people have a home.

Shana Wagner, of House of Hope Lutheran Church in New Hope, felt the experience expanded her understanding of the impacts of housing injustices. Read about her experience with the reading group:


Reading Evicted helped me better understand the many issues facing people who live on the brink of homelessness and evictions. All of us in the group were in different places in our understanding of these topics. So, we started off by sharing how we felt about our first assigned reading.

There were eight of us participating in the group. Each of us engaged with the material and our own experiences through three recommended readings from the book. We got to know each other and talk honestly about the issues that create housing inequities.

This book is filled with such enormous difficulty, trauma, pain, sadness and hopelessness. It made it hard to read at times, but the author showed such skill at helping us connect to the material.

Along with the assigned readings, we were also suggested podcasts to listen to, all of which pertain to racial injustice. Podcasts like “Littler War on the Prairie” and “American Police”, along with the PBS series “Race: The Power of an Illusion”, helped provide context for the landscape the author describes.

Following the conclusion of our reading group, Elizabeth continued to recommend other worthwhile resources such as “Nice White Parents,” a podcast miniseries.

Through connecting with this material, I began to better understand the hardships many of the people we try to serve experience. While it is often not an easy pill to swallow, educating yourself on the experiences of those living without stability is vital in our Beacon mission.

Matthew Desmond’s book helped me better understand the importance of stability. Reading Evicted was such an excellent choice to help expand our group’s awareness, understanding and empathy of what it would be like to be evicted. It was an experience well worth the time, and one I was thankful to be a part of.

Thanks to the support of Beacon’s congregational organizers, I can better expand my advocacy toolkit and help spread our shared Beacon mission.


Do you want to grow your advocacy toolkit? Beacon is seeking to introduce 1,000 new members to our collaborative. Invite a friend and attend Beacon Now: Weekly Virtual Tours. All September long we will be talking about creating new homes at Emerson Village. Sign up today and contact Craig Freeman for more information.


Want resources to better educate yourself on the issues that create housing inequities? Contact Elizabeth Tannen for reading, listening and viewing materials.