American anti-poverty advocates are increasingly focusing on expressing homelessness as a violation of fundamental human rights. Conceptualizing homelessness as a human rights violation can help add legal content to advocacy goals, and help build support for the housing resources, policy changes, and improved legal protective measures needed to ensure access to housing.
This article explores the right to housing in domestic and international law, how to evaluate compliance with the right in the United States, and how to employ legal strategies in support of claims to the right. Theauthors review the status of international law in U. S. law and courts and discuss legislative, regulatory, and litigation strategies to support a right to housing. The article concludes with reflections on earlier social movements that affirmed the right to housing in the United States and on the way forward.
Recent legislative initiatives, and proposed legal and political advocacy, show promise in vitalizing a right to housing movement in the United States. Through political advocacy and litigation advocates can move toward recognition of the right to housing. Unlike proscriptive rights that primarily bar the state actively interfering with human behaviour, a meaningful right to housing requires the nation and the individual states to act affirmatively by adopting legislation and policies and by spending money. Human rights law and practice offers an important framework through which to assess and critique current policy and advocate reform.
Clearinghouse Review, Vol. 38, Issue 3 and 4 (July-August 2004), pp. 97-114