Who can still afford to live in the city? | DW Documentary

From DW Documentary.

In cities around the world, housing prices are skyrocketing while incomes aren’t keeping pace. Housing is a human right that is becoming increasingly evasive. A market gone wild is putting the squeeze on tenants.

The documentary film sheds light on a new kind of faceless landlord, our increasingly unlivable cities and an escalating crisis that is impacting us all. This is not gentrification – it’s a different kind of monster.

Across the globe, rental prices in cities are skyrocketing and long-term tenants are being driven out of their apartments. The film follows Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing from 2014 to 2020, as she travels the globe, trying to understand who’s being pushed out of the city and why. Housing is a human right, a precondition to a safe and healthy life. But in a number of cities, having a place to live is becoming more and more difficult. Farha’s investigation leads her to a social housing project in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where several thousand apartments abruptly changed hands; to the trendy London district of Notting Hill, where many urban mansions are vacant; to Berlin, the German capital; and to Valparaíso in Chile. She also heads to the green hinterland of Seoul and the New York district of Harlem, where one tenant’s rent has been raised from 2,400 to 3,500 dollars from one day to the next for his 70-square-meter home. Besides interviewing desperate tenants, the journalist speaks with sociologist Saskia Sassen, economist and Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, and writer Roberto Saviano. They vividly explain how the transformation of the housing market into capital assets that are traded like stocks or commodities has culminated in a global social crisis within just a few years. "I believe there’s a huge difference between housing as a commodity and gold as a commodity. Gold is not a human right, housing is," says Leilani Farha. That is why she founded "The Shift," a global initiative that brings together advocates, mayors and NGOs, to counter the unbridled transformation of housing into financial assets.

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