The right to decent and affordable is a basic human right. But housing is also a commodity. If you own your home, it may represent a significant portion of your wealth. People and companies are buying up buildings not as homes but strictly as assets. So what happens when a commodity is also a human right? It presents a conflict that is being felt around world-wide.
This documentary follows Leilani Farha, newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, around the world in her fight to define affordable housing as a fundamental human right. She (and we) will visit markets where housing prices have eclipsed income levels, sometimes by margins of two and three and four times.
From Toronto’s addiction to luxury condos that sit vacant to the Grenfell Tower fire in London that claimed 72 lives, Farha, accompanied by director Fredrik Gertten, is there, asking the tough questions.
Push is a very watchable film. It speaks to us on a human level. Why is an investment company buying up low-income housing? What is a city, and who is meant to live there? Where will people go when they lose their homes, their communities? And how can we live with ourselves when literally trillions of dollars worth of real estate sits vacant while people die sleeping in the streets? And how can investment firms be allowed to buy up distressed mortgages and make a profit renting those same properties after a financial crisis OF THEIR OWN MAKING.
Once you start wading in, Gertten seeks out some very esteemed social and political thinkers to shed light and insight on a situation that is raging out of control. Yet the documentary remains accessible, its experts approachable. Gertten navigates this with clear intention. This is indeed a human crisis, one that should and does engage AND enrage us.