Stephanie Land (born September 1978) is an American author who writes about poverty in the United States.
Land grew up between Washington and Anchorage, Alaska, in a middle class household. A car accident at age 16 led to her having post-traumatic stress disorder which was later exacerbated by her financial struggles. In her late twenties, she lived in Port Townsend, Washington, where she had her first child and became a single mother who worked maid service jobs to support her family. Although she did not grow up in poverty, she spent the next several years living below the poverty line and relied on several welfare programs to cover necessary expenses; this later informed her writing on issues of poverty and public policy.After six years of cleaning in Washington and Missoula, she was eventually able to use student loans and Pell grants to move to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of Montana. During her studies, she published her first public writing in the form of blog posts and local publications followed by Internet-based publications such as The Huffington Post and Vox. Upon graduating from the University of Montana, Land ended her dependence on food stamps, started working as a freelance writer, and became a writing fellow with the Center for Community Change.Land is married to Tim Faust and their family has four children.
In 2019, Land's debut book Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive was released. It debuted at #3 on The New York Times Best Seller list. The book was an elaboration of a 2015 post that she made to Vox.The book has received critical acclaim. In USA Today, Sharon Peters praised the book's honesty, writing that it fills the "with much candid detail about the frustrations with the limitations of programs she relied on. It is a picture of the soul-robbing grind through poverty that millions live with every day." Emily Cooke of The New York Times summed up her review by focusing on the clarity of Land's suffering in the work: "Land survived the hardship of her years as a maid, her body exhausted and her brain filled with bleak arithmetic, to offer her testimony. It’s worth listening to." Katy Read of The Star Tribune suggests, "The next time you hear someone say they think poor people are lazy, hand them a copy of Maid. Stephanie Land can tell them otherwise and, unlike most authors who write about poverty, speaks from personal—and recent—experience." In The Washington Post, Jenner Rogers writes, "Maid isn’t about how hard work can save you but about how false that idea is. It’s one woman’s story of inching out of the dirt and how the middle class turns a blind eye to the poverty lurking just a few rungs below—and it’s one worth reading." Kirkus Reviews concludes that Maid is "[a]n important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty."
"I Spent 2 Years Cleaning Houses. What I Saw Makes Me Never Want to Be Rich.", Vox, November 12, 2015
"Trump’s Election Stole My Desire to Look for a Partner", The Washington Post, December 5, 2016
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, published by Hachette Books, January 22, 2019 (ISBN 0316505110)
"The Day My Husband Strangled Me," The Guardian, November 15, 2018.See also
Nickel and Dimed, a 2000 investigative piece on poverty and minimum wage work by Barbara Ehrenreich, also of the Economic Hardship Program and who wrote the introduction to MaidReferences
Profile and writings from the Center for Community Change
Maid excerpt from The New York Times