Housing prices are skyrocketing in cities all across the world. It’s no secret that we are facing a modern housing crisis, due to the severe lack of affordable housing. PUSH, the new documentary by Swedish director Fredrik Gertten, follows the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing Leilani Farha. As the special rapporteur, Farha has dedicated her life and work to tackling the global housing crisis, and is a prominent figure in the push for housing as a human right.

PUSH sheds light on increasingly unliveable cities, unattainable markets, various forms of gentrification, and an escalating crisis that has an effect on us all. Recently, Raising the Roof interviewed Farha about the film, and about our shared core belief that housing is a basic human right.

Interview with Leilani Farha:


Raising the Roof (RtR): Why is PUSH an important and impactful documentary?

Leilani Farha: PUSH tells the story of our time; the takeover of housing by global financial actors, pushing low and moderate income people out of their homes and even communities. It’s the first documentary to map the global nature of this phenomenon, from Seoul, South Korea to Santiago de Chile, to Toronto, Canada. And although there is indeed a housing crisis and the people living that crisis know something has gone sideways. What people don’t know is what’s at the root of all of this. PUSH provides some shocking answers.

RtR:Now that Canada has passed its National Housing Act with the inclusion of housing as a human right, what is the next step to guaranteeing this right is upheld?


LF: It is amazing that Canada has recognized that human rights are the way to address homelessness and unaffordable housing. [Canada] needs to appoint an independent Federal Housing Advocate who will be able to investigate some of the systemic barriers to adequate housing and who can ask for an adjudicative panel that’s struck to hear matters that require further investigation.

RtR: What should the average Canadian know about housing as a human right?


LF: I think people in Canada, especially those who are finding it difficult to find and maintain housing, know that housing is a human right and that it should be treated as such. I would like to see more city Mayors take this on board and ask themselves “what does the human right to housing mean for my local housing strategy or policy?” This might lead them to stop enacting and enforcing by-laws that criminalize homelessness, for example. It might lead to new approaches to prevent and address homelessness to ensure that everyone, even the most marginalized people, enjoy adequate housing.


To view the trailer for PUSH, click here.

To read more about housing as a human right, click here.

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