Thirty days. That is the number of days a tenant has until they are required to leave their home when given an eviction notice. In some extreme cases, that notice can be five days. In Wisconsin, there have been roughly 28,000 evictions filed in 2016 alone.
University of Wisconsin’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning partnered with Near West Side to host the first stop of the national tour: Evicted. The free exhibit will be held through Sept. 30 at the Mobile Design Box, 753 N. 27th St.
The exhibit is based on the Pulitzer Prize book “Evicted” written by Matthew Desmond and it follows eight families struggling to pay rent. Melissa Muller, a graphic designer at Quorum Architects, says the exhibit is a visual way to advocate this national issue.
“It’s very very visual,” said Muller. “There are a lot of statistics but it’s very eye catching and it’s stunning in some cases.”
Once you enter the space you are faced with simple large housing structures. One of the homes, named Tenants, has wallpaper on the outside surface to symbolize the eviction process. There are moving boxes carefully placed to create a united states map, each state has a box with a different size to show the number of evictions filed per state.
In the center of the exhibit, there are items on top of each other wrapped in shrink wrap. Inside the tightly wrapped structure, are personal items you can find in any home. Some of the included items are chairs that stacked on top of each other, blankets, wall art and a teddy bear.
Keith Stanley, executive director of Near West Side, says that eye-catching item will speak volumes with visitors.
“Put yourself in the position of a family who your belongings are out on the street,” said Stanley. “Everything that you own are out on the street for passersby to dig through, for anybody to just take and run. What do you do?”
One of the main priorities of this tour is to bring awareness and to help individuals who have been evicted or in the process of an eviction.
“It’s a good way to create this dialogue between people that it might affect and the people who can help them,” said Muller.
Housing is a human right and eviction is a reality for many. The staggering numbers matter and this might be a small step towards change and creating hope. You can catch this free exhibit through Sept. 30.