In March 2016, for the 31st session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, will present her new report on homelessness and adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context.
This report, available in all UN languages, focuses on the intimate link between homelessness and the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing, as well as virtually all other human rights, including the right to life and non-discrimination. "Homelessness occurs when housing is treated as a commodity rather than as a human right" is the report's leitmotiv.
After depicting the complexity and diversity of homelessness definitions worldwide, the report proposes a three-dimensional human rights definition:
- "The first dimension addresses the absence of home - both the absence of the material aspect of minimally adequate housing and of the social aspect of a secure place to establish a family or social relationships and participate in community life"
- "The second dimension considers homelessness as a form of systemic discrimination and social exclusion, recognizing that being deprived of a home gives rise to a social identity through wich "the homeless" is constitued as a social group subject to discrimination and stigmatization"
- "The third dimension recognizes those who are homeless as rights holders who are resilient in the struggle for survival and dignity. With a unique understanding of the systems that deny them their rights, homeless people must be recognized as central agents for the social transformation necessary for the realization of the right to adequate housing."
Subsequently, the report explores the role of discrimination, stigmatization, criminalization and social exclusion in the process of housing exclusion, and succeeds to identify the interconnected causes of homelessness, describing also the connections between homelessness and marginalized groups. It advocactes for a human rights framework to adress homelessness and access to justice, and describes interesting strategic policy responses.
Finally, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Adequate Housing conclusions and recommendations include (among other things):
- Immediate obligations of States:
- To adopt and implement strategies to eliminate homelessness, with clear goals, targets and timelines;
- To eliminate the practice of forced eviction, especially where it will lead to homelessness;
- To combat and prohibit in law discrimination, stigma and negative stereotyping of homeless people;
- To ensure access to legal remedies for violations of rights, including for the failure of States to take positive measures to address homelessness;
- To regulate third-party actors so that their actions are consistent with the elimination of homelessness and do not discriminate either directly or indirectly against homeless people.
- All States must commit to eliminating homelessness by 2030 or earlier if possible, in a manner that upholds international human rights and in keeping with target 11.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- All States must develop and implement, on an immediate basis, coordinated rights-based strategies to prevent and eliminate homelessness [...].
N.B: The Special Rapporteur invited Governments and other relevant actors, such as National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations, networks, UN agencies and entities, and others with relevant information to share contributions and inputs, and used the information received in the report. FEANTSA and several FEANTSA members contributed: click here to read FEANTSA's contribution.
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