John Oliver breaks down the many disturbing problems with the U.S. rental market


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.”

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