The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) released a report June 2nd that finds the federal government has not sufficiently protected the “human right to housing,” as defined by the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Given the state of the housing market, the NLCHP advocates that now is the time to address this failure, when the need is at its highest.
NLCHP lays out a legal argument for the government’s obligation to solve the nation’s housing crisis. Researchers used UN-accepted standards to assess seven factors in protecting the right to housing: legal security of tenure; availability of services, materials & infrastructure; affordability; accessibility; habitability; location; and cultural adequacy. Within these categories, the researchers graded the government’s performance in fulfilling the human right to housing. NLCHP issued failing grades (defined as any grade below a D+ using a standard American grading system) in several categories and subcategories while noting a limited number of successes. Each section of their report also includes recommendations for improving performance in that category.
While the report references indicators of U.S. housing need, it is focused on the legal history related to fulfilling the human right to housing in this country and can serve as a primer for advocates in this regard.
The report’s release coincides with HUD’s release of the 2010 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (see related article in this issue of Memo).
The NLCHP’s report, Simply Unacceptable: Homelessness and the Human Right to Housing in the United States 2011, is available at http://www.nlchp.org/content/pubs/SimplyUnacceptableReport1.pdf