The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” Governments have the responsibility to enact systems and controls that promote the progressive realization of these human rights – and that do not impede the progressive realization of human rights.
Homelessness and housing policymakers, practitioners, and advocates are using the human rights commitments made by the U.S. government to reframe the domestic policy conversation around homelessness. From federal reports recognizing criminalization of homelessness as a human rights treaty violation to local ordinances recognizing housing as a human right to international critiques by human rights monitors, there are many ways to participate in this movement for human rights.
On Wednesday, October 9, we conducted a new webinar on “Family Homelessness & the Human Right to Housing,” which will be repeated this Winter. The goal is to help advocates and practitioners in child and family services to better understand the connection between their work and that of human rights advocacy, and particularly the right to adequate housing.
Guest Presenter Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights and Children’s Rights Programs at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, provided an overview of successes achieved through the right to housing movement internationally and a review of efforts in the United States. We presented some examples of local advocacy and made the link between Housing First and Rapid Rehousing initiatives and the “progressive realization of the human right to housing.”
Child and family services organizations, in addition to homelessness and housing policymakers, practitioners, and advocates, should become knowledgeable about human rights commitments made by the U.S. government through international treaties – and use that knowledge to support their efforts.
Tanya Tull – President/CEO, Partnering for Change
UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, with Tanya Tull, speaking to a young mother with baby in her arms who pays $450 monthly for a bunkbed in a small room shared with other families in an illegal “shelter” in South Central L.A. that has since been closed down. (Inspection in U.S. in November 2009)