Avangrid Foundation & the National Building Museum Create Community Through “Evicted”

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

“It is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need…The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”  - Dr. Matthew Desmond, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City


The Avangrid Foundation, the primary philanthropic arm of AVANGRID, Inc. has announced a partnership with the National Building Museum to take the exhibit “Evicted” to more than a dozen communities across the United States over the next four years.


The travelling exhibit distills and expands the conversation about America’s housing crisis, first told in the Pulitzer-prize winning book by Princeton-based Sociologist Dr. Matthew Desmond,

Evicted: Poverty and Progress in the American City.”


“ Evicted,“ the narrative and inspiration for the exhibit  is based on Desmond’s years of living and working with families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, subsequently studying how eviction , markets and the housing crisis affected families in their attempt to survive and overcome poverty; speaking to a national crisis. The book follows the lives of a number of tenants and landlords in order to examine how access to housing affects the poor.


Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

In it, Dr. Desmond addresses the concept that “shelter” is central to an individual's life, happiness, and stability. Desmond speaks to evictions as an example and a symbol of the housing crisis in America that is at the root of the nation’s ability to access the “American Dream”, to create and maintain wealth, to build and maintain stable communities and create equality and access for the next generation of Americans.

As the book summary states, “Eviction is disruptive, and those who are evicted face loss of property, intensified poverty, and erosion in quality of housing and in stable communities overall.  Evictions also disrupt jobs, and may increase depression and addiction. It's not only that poverty contributes to housing precarity; housing precarity contributes to poverty. Moreover, a home can spell the difference between stable poverty, in which saving and advancement are possible, and grinding poverty, in which one staggers from crisis to crisis. “  

These concepts are further examined in the exhibit using  new  data, gathered via Desmond’s Princeton-based Eviction Lab, which that many post-industrial smaller cities - including places where AVANGRID has an operating presence - are disproportionately struggling with high eviction rates, lack of housing opportunity, homelessness, and in turn high rates of generational poverty.    It speaks to the tradeoffs that we face, nationally and locally in a continued state of housing crisis. It is a starting point, not conclusion.

Why Evicted as Art, Why Now?

“ Evictions used to be rare. Only in the last 30 years have they become more prevalent, with African American women and children often hit the hardest. Incomes for poor, renting families have remained stagnant, while housing costs soar higher than ever. The federal government does not fill this gap. In fact, 70% of qualified families do not receive federal housing aid, and low-income families face a shortage of affordable housing in almost every single county in the country.” – National Building Museum, Evicted Exhibit

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

The “Evicted” exhibit is one step in “unpacking” the larger conversation - rooted in data, analysis, storytelling -around what it truly means to build stable and sustainable communities, from the “ground, up.”


The immersive exhibit, currently in in Washington, D.C. through May 2019, has touched thousands of people, inviting them to personally interact with stories and data about their own communities. Building on narratives and themes from the book, the exhibit looks nationwide at a crisis that impacts more than 2.7 million American households each year.  


The impacts on health, job stability, educational stability, resulting from repeated disruptions and lack of consistent community are seen firsthand. Visitors witness this cycle through original audio interviews and photography of a specific family facing chronic eviction, charting their journey through the housing search and court system.


Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

The travelling exhibit will extend that conversation with tens of thousands of people in partnership with sponsoring cities, cultural institutions, community-based organizations, and educational institutions to ensure that the exhibit remains free and accessible to people in the neighborhoods most represented by the work. Many of these communities are those in which AVANGRID has a presence.


The travelling exhibit will launch in Milwaukee, WI in June 2019 (through September). The tour is confirmed to stop in Fresno, CA, Anchorage, AK; Kansas City, MO; Hartford, CT; Chicago, IL; and Ann Arbor, MI through April 2022.  Other Cities that are currently in consideration include Rochester, NY, Memphis, TN, Portland OR, New York, NY and Houston, TX among others.


Sponsors of the current exhibit include:  

Ford Foundation; Amy C. Falls; Wells Fargo Housing FoundationChan Zuckerberg Initiative DAF, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; AFL-CIO Housing Investment TrustThe Annie E. Casey Foundation; International Masonry InstituteInternational Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers; Enterprise Community Partners; LISC, in memory of Oramenta Newsome; Charles P. and Shari Lawrence Pfleeger; Venable Foundation; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

What Visitors are Saying…

 “We have failed to fully appreciate how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.”  ― Dr. Matthew Desmond, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City


Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum


See more comment cards on the National Building Museum here.

Why the Avangrid Foundation?

“Evictions affect communities across the country. Americans are losing their homes, not by the tens or hundreds of thousands, but by the millions every year. Evictions impact cities large and small, rural and suburban communities too. We cannot promote social mobility in this country without first ensuring that families have a safe affordable place to live.” – Dr. Matthew Desmond


AVANGRID is firmly rooted in the communities in which we operate, from our poles, to our pipes to our people.  We are part of the infrastructure that makes communities vital, and vibrant.


The residual impacts of a breakdown in housing opportunity in many of the communities in which we have assets is reflected in the thousands of requests to Avangrid and the Avangrid Foundation by individuals and community-based organizations to provide, food, shelter, clothing, fuel support, health care, and other basic services in the name of being a invested corporate citizens especially for rate-payer communities.  We can only consider a fraction of these requests.

 Avangrid and the Avangrid Foundation is already a leader in helping customers build community and access safe and housing made affordable through mechanisms like:

  • Energy efficiency  programs

  •  Hardship Programs

  • Economic Development

  • Community Grants & Contributions

  • Employee Engagement & Volunteering


Our commitment to innovation, rigorous research and our communities compels us to contribute to broader conversation in pursuit of sustainable solutions, including in the area of stable housing and poverty reduction.

 The Avangrid Foundation is dedicated to support of related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals while stepping onto the national stage to take the important issue to our communities directly with the leading thought- partner in the area of housing opportunity.

Book Reviews & Other Resources





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 For the National Building Museum Press Release, click here.