The Human Right to Housing

Housing and homelessness are human rights issues—and that can be an organizing strength.

A Paradigm Shift Is Possible

Focusing on the human right to housing can help advance solutions to the U.S. homelessness and housing crisis. Ultimately, it can help us shift from a paradigm that treats housing as a discretionary privilege to one that treats it as a priority and a right.

Making this shift won’t be easy. But in the early 1980s, when homelessness was first becoming a national crisis, it was considered an issue for the private sector, faith communities, and charities. It was not viewed as an issue for national policy. We lobbied, we organized, we persisted — and eventually we succeeded, when what is now known as the McKinney-Vento act was passed. Just last year the administration released a federal plan to end homelessness.

To end homelessness, and the affordable housing crisis that drives it, we still have a long way to go. Understanding and publicizing the human right to housing can help us get there.

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