Whitney Gent: Housing as a Human Right

written by naehblog
May 16, 2011

Today’s guest post comes to us from Whitney Gent, Development & Communications Director at theNational Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

Recent polling indicates that 3/4 of Americans believe that adequate housing is a human right, and 2/3 believe that government programs need to be expanded to ensure this right.

The U.S. helped shape the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights – both of which recognize that housing is not a privilege, but a right. But despite our declarations and our international treaty ratifications, it’s obvious our ideals do not match our reality.

But now, we’re seeing big progress. This March, for the first time, the federal government officially acknowledged that reducing homelessness implicates its human rights obligations. Government is now catching up with advocates who have been working for this recognition for years.

This is thanks to advocates across the country who have demanded that our government be held accountable to its international commitments and to make the human right to housing a reality here at home.

Using a rights-based framework for homelessness advocacy gives us a different set of tools to create change, to end homelessness. A rights-based framework can help us fight budget cuts that would send more people to the streets. It will help us turn the Federal Plan to End Homelessness into federalaction.

This June 7-8, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty will host advocates from across the country in Washington D.C. at the annual National Forum on the Human Right to Housing, where we will offer trainings on how to use the tools we have gained to make progress in the movement to realize the human right to housing. We’ll also strategize to determine how to best build on the foundation we’re laying.

The forum will feature speakers from government, the media, the advocacy community, and the funding community For more information about the forum, or to register, please visit our website.

Some scholarships are available. Contact Christine Hwang to apply.

Whitney Gent is the Development & Communications Director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP).