What is the Right to Housing?

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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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The right to housing is a term used by various international associations that state that all people, throughout the world, have a right to live inside of a home, rather than on the street. Of course, in many areas of the world, no actual laws or official movements exist to ensure this theory, but many areas do help various types of people find homes. This concept allows for people of all races and genders, as well as sexual orientation, the right to housing in such a way as to allow them to live at an adequate standard of living level.

This concept has a very broad way of thinking, and the right to housing may be interpreted differently from one area to another, but the basic concepts are all the same. It symbolizes peace, safety, and self-respect for all people. For this reason a slum, which is a place that offers very little shelter and safety, is not recognized as a proper type of housing. Security means that people can live without having to worry about guarding their possessions, or even their lives, in some areas. Being able to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors is imperative to obtain a normal standard of living.


In order for low income people to receive help from state and federal agencies, they are required to have a permanent address. If the agency cannot verify that the person actually has a residence, then they will not be offered any help when it comes to food and medical care. It is also extremely hard, if not impossible, to actually obtain a job if a residence is not listed on the application because employers need to know that the people they hire will stay working for a long period of time. People that do not have an address are not prime candidates when local businesses hire new employees. This is one argument for the right to housing proponents.

An international covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights states in article 11.1 that people have the right to proper food, clothing, housing, and developing their specific living conditions. Article 27 also protects the rights of people to have proper shelter because children need a normal standard of living in order to prosper and grow into good citizens. A common problem in the past was restricting access to housing units to only people of a certain race or sex. The International Conventions on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Discrimination Against Women put an end to this in Article 5, section ā€˜eā€™, which covers racism and Article 14, section 2h, which protects the rights of women to have a right to housing.


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