The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has some homework for you.
Every other month for the next year, the advocacy, housing and support services nonprofit will host a live Facebook book club.
The digital book club — the first of any kind hosted by the coalition — grew out of a brick-and-mortar series of community conversations about housing issues last year. Sessions of the “Ignite Thought. Incite Change.” series, which continues this year, often ended with people asking how they could learn and do more, said Cathy Alderman, who is vice president of communications and public policy for the coalition. Alderman said the coalition at first considered a physical book club.
But “the online form might be an easier, more convenient way for folks to attend more regularly or less regularly as their schedules allow,” she said.
Since the book club was announced last month more than 50 people have joined the book club’s Facebook page, Alderman said Thursday.
“We’re really interested to see how this goes and whether people find this engaging,” she said.
The first theme is affordable housing and the first book is sociologist Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer-winning “Evicted: Poverty and profit in the American city.” That discussion is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 15.
Desmond’s meticulously researched 2016 nonfiction book follows eight families who are struggling to hold onto a place to live. While it is set in Milwaukee, the challenges the families face are a national story. Wages are stagnating and housing prices are rising. The opioid epidemic is outstripping any mustering of addiction therapy. Families are having to decide whether to pay rent or buy groceries or seek health care.
It’s such systemic issues the book club was created to address, Alderman said. Other topics that will be explored over the year are how we treat mental illness; the impact of trauma; the criminal justice system; substance use disorders; and race and culture.
Each session will have a reader from the coalition who will get the comments rolling with a few questions. An expert will also take part. Alderman is the reader for “Evicted” and the expert is the coalition’s advocacy manager Aubrey Hasvold, who along with Jack Regenbogen of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy researched and wrote a 2017 report “Facing Eviction Alone: A Study of Evictions in Denver 2014-2016” in which they determined that while landlords in eviction court in Denver were almost always represented by lawyers, tenants usually were not.
The remaining five books have been chosen, but Alderman said they each will be announced only at the live session preceding the one in which they will be discussed. She hopes that will keep people who have read ahead from turning the conversations to their favorite book instead of the tome at hand.
“We were afraid we would get some over-achievers,” she said.