Aug. 14, 2013

WASHINGTON – On Aug. 12, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates passed a resolution calling on the U.S. government at all levels to promote and implement the human right to housing.

In the resolution, the ABA “urges governments to promote the human right to adequate housing for all through increased funding, development and implementation of affordable housing strategies and to prevent infringement of that right.”

The resolution, introduced by the ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, and drafted and enacted with assistance from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (Law Center), builds on increasing support in the U.S. for the human right to housing, including recent statements by the U.S. government recognizing a political commitment to the human right to housing and addressing the criminalization of homelessness as a violation of two major human rights treaties.

Tracking language drawn from the international human rights standards, in the report accompanying the resolution the ABA “calls upon federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to … mplement policies promoting the human right to adequate housing for all… including: [a]ffordability, habitability, and accessibility; …security of tenure, access to services…in areas that do not threaten occupants’ health; and [p]rotection of cultural identity or diversity.”

“This resolution by the ABA emphasizes that adequate housing is more than a goal – it is a basic human right, carrying with it obligations on the part of the government, at all levels, to fulfill that right,” said Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights and Children’s Rights Programs at the Law Center. “We hope this resolution will serve as a tool for lawyers and other advocates across the country in working with governments to create solutions to homelessness and address the lack of adequate housing in the U.S.”

“As communities across the country continue to cope with the economic and homelessness crises, this resolution provides an important push in the direction of constructive solutions,” said Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the Law Center. “Together with the three states that have passed homeless bills of rights in the past year, we are hopeful this is another step towards a human rights-based approach to homelessness in the U.S.”

To read the resolution and report, click here.