A new film, Push, documents the work of a UN Special Rapporteur as she travels the globe to understand the housing crisis.
On the face of it, it could be an inspiring call to arms. Unfortunately, it provides few solutions beyond governments working together to tackle global finance.
The film title is a nod to the process of gentrification, whereby residents are “pushed” out of their homes to make way for typically more expensive developments. Housing has become a financial asset to be traded at the whims of private equity firms. Meanwhile tenants face ever increasing rents and stagnating wages. Our “protagonist” asserts that the right to affordable housing is protected by international law. While she acknowledges the housing market has failed, she puts this down to “disaster capitalism” rather than capitalism in general. This is a common liberal viewpoint, but one also espoused by some on the left in the form of “de-financialisation”.
The film features many poignant testimonies, especially from former residents of Grenfell Tower. There are also small examples of community organising, such as a rent strike in Toronto. However, more time is given to talking heads: economists, academics and politicians.
All in all, the film gives an underwhelming answer to such a large-scale problem.