Ø In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt declared that the U.S. had adopted a second Bill of Rights, including the right to a decent home.
Ø The U.S. signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, recognizing housing as a human right and since that time the concept of the right to housing has been further developed at the international level.
Ø Globally it is estimated that between 20 and 40 million urban households are homeless and that as many as 1.3 billion people live in inadequate shelter, largely because they cannot afford to do otherwise.
Ø The extent and conditions of homelessness and housing inadequacy vary but both are global phenomena, and they are increasingly addressed in international law and policy.
Ø However, the U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the world in making this right a reality.
o France, Scotland, South Africa and Ecuador have adopted the right to housing in their constitutions or legislation, leading to improved housing conditions.
Ø Recent polling indicates that 50% of Americans strongly believe that adequate housing is a human right, and 2/3 believe that government programs may need to be expanded to ensure this right.
Ø Nevertheless, government policies have not traditionally treated housing as a right, and thus housing needs of most vulnerable Americans have gone unfulfilled.
Ø U.S. housing advocates can and should use international human rights standards to reframe public debate, craft and support legislative proposals, supplement legal claims in court, advocate in international fora and support community organizing efforts.
Ø The Law Center's Human Rights Program advocates for increased housing resources at the local, state, and national levels by using human rights law and strategies to change domestic policy and law.
Ø The Human Rights Program holds the United States government accountable to international treaties to which it is a party. We believe that each and every American has a human right to housing.