Gentrification is a fatal phenomenon affecting many cities, transforming low-class neighborhoods into highly desirable districts, gradually driving house prices up and the original inhabitants out. Are the new wealthy occupants to blame for the price hikes, or is something else going on?
Filmmaker Fredrik Gertten (Bananas!, Bikes vs Cars) follows the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing as she investigates the shrouded world of venture capitalists, property speculators and slumlords. She visits major cities in Great Britain, Spain, Chile and South Korea to see how such a variety of locations are beset with pretty much identical problems: tenants facing a tripling of their rent while luxury homes—or even entire developments—are left vacant on purpose.
Bricks are the new currency, and the big cities are playgrounds for the rich, claims one of the interviewees. Can anything be done to push back on this “property Mafia”? Committed citizens living on different continents point out that a city center is more than just a desirable location. They’re fighting for better regulations in the hope of turning the tide. Perhaps all that’s needed is a push in the right direction.