At Saturday 23th March in Bremen Theater in Copenhagen the world premiere of the documentary by WG-film took place. A completely crowded salon (about 500 people) with an enthusiastic audience witnessed this film that described and explained what is going on in almost every major city on earth.
How different people were treated. How housing turns into a commodity, despite the fact that the right to adequate housing is a human right according to international laws. How pensioners are evicted from homes they have lived in for many years with the help of money from pension funds. How these are used to drive up prices and rents. How unknown new owners let the houses decay. That lots of housing estates are used as financial assets and stay empty in cities like London despite many and a growing number of homeless people. You just have to see this film!
Housing affordability is decreasing at a record pace. The local working and middle classes have become unable to afford housing in major cities across the world. London, New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, Tokyo, Valparaiso, Sydney, Melbourne, Caracas, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm… the list seems endless. People are being pushed out of their very own homes – because living in them has become unaffordable.
Young people are getting trapped in a cycle of renting apartments that are becoming less and less affordable. Workers, pensioners and lower income communities face evictions and are left without a place to live. The high cost of housing pushes people into poverty and homelessness. In the UK and US, for instance, homelessness is increasing by alarming rates. More often than before, it is children and families that end up without a home. The problem is even worse in the Global South, where the number of people living in informal housing is projected to exceed 1 billion by 2020. However, the crisis also puts stress on the middle and upper-middle classes. In London, for example, even a doctor’s salary is not necessarily enough to buy a home.
This isn’t a natural, inevitable development. It can change. Residents should be able to afford to live in their own cities. It is time to recognise that housing is a human right, not a commodity. Let’s push back!
The Shift, presented in the film, is a new worldwide movement to reclaim and realize the fundamental human right to housing – to move away from housing as a place to park excess capital, to housing as a place to live in dignity, to raise families and participate in community. The Shift has been initiated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, in partnership with United Cities Local Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Meny cities gave already given the SHIFT their support. It is also open for NGOs like International Union of Tenants (IUT), national and regional unions of tenants and others.
After the film Leilani Farha, Saskia Sassen and the director of the film, Fredrik Gertten were asked how they look at the development. Leilani Farha believes that if we really want to make change to ensure people can live in the city, then we have to be able to hold someone responsible for what is going on. It is the states. They also have the power to make changes. To stop this monster. She appreciated that I as a representant gave the support from IUT in the fight against this monster,
Saskia Sassen, professor of Sociology at Columbia University, has studied the impacts of globalization for 40 years and coined the term “global cities”. She explained why an empty apartment is sometimes a better asset than its use as a home. She describes the investments in housing as high-end land grabs. And called the actors crooks! This is more than gentrification, it is destroying cities.
Fredrik Gertten, explained why he wanted do to this film as he has witnessed the bas development in housing.
I cannot reproduce this whole interesting hearing, but afterwards the audience stood up and showed their immense appreciation of this film.
In the film you also meet Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economy. He explains how the private equity firms managed to grow throughout every crisis in the financial system, ending up becoming the biggest landlords in the world. Stiglitz also explains the big shift in history when the deregulation of the financial markets opened the floodgates for investors.
Roberto Saviano, Italian journalist and author of Gomorra, was forced into hiding after exposing the business side of organized crime. “Tax havens are where criminal capitalism and legal capitalism meet and merge. Mafia organizations were the first to create and facilitate money-laundering mechanisms through tax havens.”