Housing is a Human Right!
This page helps support work to shift local debates towards a human right to housing framework. Most policy debates assume that markets are the best mechanism for providing housing. But we have ample evidence of the failures of markets to provide housing and other basic needs. What does it mean to treat housing as a human right rather than a commodity? How can we insist that politicians treat our communities as our homes and not as real estate?
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Blasts Governments and Corporations
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, recently directed letters to governments and corporate leaders around the world, pointing out how prevailing policies violate international human rights obligations.
She cites the following violations in her letter to the United States:
- Financial supports and tax breaks that encourage the institutional investment in housing undermine government’s responsibility under international law to ensure access to adequate housing for the most vulnerable populations.
- Failure to encourage sub-national governments to enact legislation to ensure adequate supplies of affordable housing, such as rent control and policies linking housing prices with minimum wage regulations.
- Disproportionately impacting African American households and other minority groups, contrary to the U.S. government’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Her letter goes on to conclude:
To address the issue of financialization and its impact on the enjoyment of the right to housing, your Government must develop policies and laws that include a full range of taxation, regulatory and planning measures in order to re-establish housing as a human right, promote an inclusive housing system, prevent speculation and limit the extraction of profits at the expense of tenants. This will require a transformation of the relationship between your Government and the financial sector, whereby human rights implementation becomes the overriding goal. (emphasis added)
- Read Farha's letter to the United States
- Human Rights Official Models Global Leadership in World Housing Crisis Essay by Jackie Smith and Emily Cummins summarizes the significance of this letter and calls for local actions to follow-up.
- Take Action: You can help make sure policy makers hear Farha's important message that government at all levels must be held accountable to international human rights laws and standards. Please use this Template for local groups to share the UN Special Rapporteur's Message to Governments on the Human Right to Housing with your local officials