Housing is a human right! We believe that. Sometimes we even hear our leaders say it. The United Nations has investigated the lack of housing in the U.S. as a human rights violation. Too often, we are moving in the wrong direction.
The federal government’s outcomes have always fallen short of its vision of housing all people. Just a few months before establishing the nation’s first public housing in the Housing Act of 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his inaugural address, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” That “test” is one that the U.S. continues to fail.
Attempts to undermine public housing have existed since its inception. Whether it was the legal obligation to segregate whites and blacks in public housing, the deep cuts to funding during the past several decades, or the present threat of “repositioning” public housing to private financing and ownership, our neighbors in public housing have always had to fight for their homes. Today is no different. Many people are saying “the writing is on the wall” for public housing. Residents active with NLIHC say something different.
“I SEE ONE-THIRD OF A NATION ILL-HOUSED, ILL-CLAD, ILL-NOURISHED”
FDR Memorial, Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress
We believe housing is a human right and that publicly owned, safe, and accessible housing is one example of that right. We owe it to the millions of people in public housing and to all those who spend years on waiting lists to win in this struggle. We must preserve and expand public housing along with other affordable housing programs.
The future of public housing may not be certain at the moment – but advocates throughout the NLIHC network will do everything we can to support public housing residents in their quest for the dignity of their communities and work to create greater access to public housing. Many will try to undermine our efforts, but combining the powerful voices of tenants and advocates, we will win this struggle.
If we believe housing is a human right, we have no option but to win.
Tenant Talk Editorial Board