With rent prices rising rapidly in the U.S., and some cities even seeing jumps of 30 percent in a year, John Oliver spent the latest Last Week Tonight episode digging into the issues with the U.S. renting market — from underfunded assistance programs to landlords driven solely by profit.
“That is the core issue with rental housing in this country, though: People who think that investments deserve more respect than basic human needs, and then set up a system designed to ensure that some people just spiral downwards,” says Oliver.
“They can’t move somewhere cheaper if nowhere cheaper exists; they can’t apply for federal assistance if there’s nowhere near enough; they can’t even use that assistance if no-one accepts it; and they can’t take their landlord to court if the court system is skewed against them; and they can’t depend on rental housing ever again if they’re evicted even just once. It’s a complete shitshow.”
Oliver’s solution? More affordable housing units and rental assistance.
“We need to agree housing is a human right,” he says. “This can actually be policy. Many countries, including France, Scotland and South Africa, have legally codified a right to housing, and here in the U.S. three-quarters of Americans already believe that it is a human right.”