Unbeknownst to my colleague Débora Swistun, this book was first
conceived in a conversation with her. Thank you, Débora, for planting
the seed. Once I began thinking about waiting, I needed a site to con-
duct the research, and my dear friend Esteban suggested a few. Esteban,
it’s all your fault. Agustín Burbano de Lara, Nadia Finck, and Shila
Vilker were not only diligent research assistants but, most importantly,
intellectual partners. This book draws upon many of the conversations
I had with them over the years. I would also like to extend my heartfelt
thanks to my current research collaborator, Flavia Bellomi. She not
only provided key material for this book but also constantly forces me
to think harder and clearer about the plight of the urban poor and
about the larger implications of what we do as social scientists.
Megan Comfort, Matthew Desmond, Lauren Joseph, Rodrigo Ho-
bert, Nicolette Manglos, Loïc Wacquant, and Christine Williams com-
mented on parts of this manuscript. Thanks to all of you for your
critical insights. Luciana Pol at Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales
kindly shared statistics on prison population and her numerous in-
sights on the dynamics behind the explosive growth of incarceration;
Christian Gruenberg helped me in locating hard-to-find figures on
evictions; Nicolette Manglos, Nicole Angotti, and Pamela Neumann
edited parts of this manuscript and made very helpful (substantive and
stylistic) suggestions—deep thanks to you all. Generous funding for
this project was provided by the National Science Foundation, Award
ses-0739217; by two Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Travel
Grants awarded by the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin Ameri-
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