A Human Right to Housing – Is this possible?

I have always wanted to tackle this issue in a blog, but it has simply not been on the forefront of my mind lately.  Until, I read this post yesterday by Kathryn Baer posted on the Poverty Insights blog.

Kathryn speaks on a recent report put out by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) that “assesses the current level of U.S. compliance with the human right to housing in the context of American homelessness”.  In the report, the NLCHP gives the U.S. a report card on areas defined by a United Nation’s committee interpretation on the right to adequate housing (a quick read).

Yes a human right to adequate housing.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on government policy or procedure, but a human right to adequate housing is a belief of mine that came to realization back in March when I attended NACHC‘s Policy & Issues Forum.  And, I am very glad I came across these articles to learn more about what exactly that would mean if it would happen.

Declaring housing to be a human right would mean one VERY BIG thing – governmental accountability.  If the United States’ government declared this a right, then government officials would be held accountable to make progress toward this goal and eliminate any obstacles that keep adequate housing from being available to all.

photo by Images_of_Money

Side note: An important thing to know is that
declaring adequate housing to be a human right
does not mean anyone can go to court and sue
the government to provide them a place to live.
(Read Kathryn’s post to see her explanation.)

In a post earlier this year on her personal blog (which I suggest everyone subscribe to if you are interested in gov’t policy that involves poverty) Kathryn spills some reality about policy and whether or not making housing a human right will actually cause anything to happen specifically to make adequate housing a priority.

She says, “it seems to me to make more sense to integrate housing into a broad anti-poverty strategy“.

She explains this well because many reasons for people becoming homeless are because of affordability – they have to pay medical bills, they lost their job and and can no longer pay rent or mortgage (and many other reasons).

But, I believe if housing is made a human right then it will become an end goal instead of getting lost as part of a broad strategy.  If the end goal is keeping adequate housing affordable, then other policies will fall into place.  Many organizations whose mission is to end homelessness have taken a ‘Housing First’ approach that focuses on getting homeless individuals in an affordable living space FIRST and then providing support services to further help them in their unique situation and out of poverty.

If adequate housing is made a human right, then I think policies will be made to reflect this Housing First model that has been very effective.

What do you think? Should housing be made a human right?
If it is made a human right, do you believe anything new will occur?
Comment below, tweet me, or comment on my FB page!