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VCU ASPiRE to Host Donation Drive in Support of Persons Experiencing Housing Instability

Five of the top 10 cities in the U.S. with the highest eviction rates are in Virginia. Richmond is No. 2.

In collaboration with the Virginia Commonwealth University University College, VCU living-learning program, ASPiRE, will host a toiletry and cold weather items donation drive Sept. 18 through Oct. 16 in support of local groups, the RVA Street Singers and REAL LIFE Program and persons who experience housing instability.

The donation drive is aligned with the 2019 VCU Common Book selection, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond, Ph.D. The book reveals the impact of the nation’s eviction crisis and was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

“ASPiRE is excited to once again partner on campus to support the Common Book and become involved in the issues that the book brings to light,” said Erin Burke Brown, Ph.D., ASPiRE director. “Through long-term partnerships with community partners, ASPiRE is able to make a sustained impact in the community while exposing VCU students to the different sides of issues that affect our communities, and many times, our students directly.”

“Evicted” is an ethnographic study that follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep their homes while falling deeper into poverty. It reveals the impact of the nationwide eviction crisis that affects millions of families and has consequences — poverty, homelessness, educational disparities and health care among many others — for the wider community.

After “Evicted” shed light on the crisis, Desmond, a Princeton University sociologist, founded the Eviction Lab at Princeton, which built the first nationwide database of evictions. The lab determined that Richmond had the second-highest rate of evictions in the country in 2016. And four additional Virginia cities — Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake — were in the top 10.

“So many of our students are from the regions of the commonwealth where eviction rates are high so many may already have an understanding how important and complex this problem is,” said Shelli Fowler, Ph.D., director of the Common Book Program and associate dean of University College and director of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies. “Desmond does a great job of not oversimplifying the issue. It’s not an easy problem to solve. And that’s one of our biggest points to students. Exploring complicated societal challenges with no easy solutions is part of being an engaged 21st-century citizen.”

For more information on the donation drive, contact Burke Brown at


As VCU’s Common Book, “Evicted” will be distributed to all first-year VCU students through the Common Book Program of the University College. The program’s goal is to welcome new students to the vibrant intellectual culture of VCU and to provide them with an opportunity to explore complex social issues through an interdisciplinary lens.

Requested donation items include:

Toiletry items

  • Toothpaste

  • Toothbrushes

  • Soap

  • Grooming items

  • Feminine products

  • Razors

  • Reading glasses

Cold weather items

  • Hats

  • Gloves

  • Scarves

  • Socks

Drop-off locations:

  • Cary and Belvidere, 301 W. Cary St.**

  • Cary Street Gladding Residence Center, 711 W. Main St.**

  • Cary Street Gym, near service desk, 911 W.

  • Harris Hall South (Oliver North), 1015 Floyd Ave.

  • Harris Hall - Student Services Center, 1015 Floyd Ave.

  • Hunton Student Center, first-floor lounge, 1110 E. Broad St.

  • Grace and Broad, 1000 W. Broad St.**

  • Larrick Commons, 641 N. 8th Street

  • Police Station, 224 East Broad St.

  • McGlothlin MEC, lobby near elevators, 1201 E. Marshall St.

  • School of the Arts - 1st floor, 1000 W. Broad St.

  • Shafer Court Dining Center, 810 Cathedral Place

  • Siegel Center, 1200 W. Broad St. will only be available as drop off at speaker event on 10/16

  • Snead Hall, near security office, 301 W. Main St.***

  • Student Commons, near information desk, 907 Floyd Ave.

  • West Grace Street North, 830 W. Grace St.**

  • West Grace Street South, 835 W. Grace St.**

If you are unable to locate the donation box at one of the listed sites, please contact the building’s front desk or building manager.
**Drop boxes at these locations will be available Sept. 30-Oct. 11
**Drop boxes at these locations will be available Sept. 19-Oct. 16