Hot Docs 2023: “Razing Liberty Square”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Many people struggle financially every day, not being able to afford their rent. Therefore, the government-funded housing is being offered. However, the waiting list is quite long, and those who are already admitted must navigate through their own tide.

The documentary “Razing Liberty Square” takes place over five years, beginning in 2017. Liberty Square, we learn, is the oldest public-housing project in Florida. As time goes by, houses get old, but the people that are living in them build warm memories that cannot be easily given up. Therefore, when the government-backed project announced rebuilding the city with modernized housing, including malls, new stores, and so much more, it was met with reluctance and doubt. What will happen to those that have just been relocated? Will they be allowed to stay where they are? What happens if they don’t agree?

Revolving around four main characters, Sam Kenley, a single mother of seven; the amazingly kind school founder and principal Samantha Quarterman; Liberty City resident and the representative to the development company Aaron and climate activist Valencia Gunder offer their insight as to why housing is important; the threat of global warming and its direct impact on Florida, and why the single mother relies on what the government offers and reasons why she cannot accept the voucher being offered to her, if she agrees to relocate.

The film is not about having residents kicked out and moved out somewhere else. It’s a bittersweet story of an old-housing system that should be renewed with a new look. Yes, the standards of living must be upgraded, and the city seems committed to that. But not everyone is willing to wait. Therefore, the number of people accepting the vouchers is increasing. But those that stayed and waited are about to get rewarded. Because the issue with affordable housing is a big issue not for the United States only, it’s even for Canada as well. Therefore, watching Katja Esson’s documentary is eye-opening and gives hope to know that there are still some people out there that fight for a greater cause than their own life. That alone is something worth knowing and to be proud of.

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