Right to Housing is a Right to Life

Shelter for allUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing has presented us, among other reports, with the one addressing homelessness as a global crisis. As global is local, you can see that all of the issues faced by homeless and unshelterd apply equally to Waterloo Region cities and communities. It is not easy reding this in one breath:

  • For homeless or unsheltered, living in safety and dignity is near impossible. The death rate among homeless people is higher than with housed, and their life span is significantly shorter.
  • Homeless people live under a constant threat, intimidation, harassment and assault; "they are denied access to places to shower, urinate, defecate or eat."
  • Many are forced to live in overcrowded conditions, with little food to eat and without adequate access to  healthcare.  "When these same conditions are brought to light in the context of prisons and detention centres, there is no question that they are to be considered critical human rights violations demanding action."
  • They say that they are not treated as human beings, "that whether they are alive or dead is of little significance to government officials, that they are considered “expendable”.' 
  • Homeless are absent from decision-making about the housing programs and strategies, and their suggestions have not been acted on. The government officials talk and think about homelessness differently "as one among many programme demands competing with highways and sports stadiums for budgetary allocations, assessed by the numbers of housing units or toilets provided, often without meaningful engagement with the lives of those affected."
  • Domestic courts and human rights bodies rarely engage with governments about their obligations to adopt effective strategies to address and eliminate homelessness and intolerable living conditions as enforceable human rights obligations.


Read the full report on Homelessness as Global Human Rights Crisis.

Read also the National Protocol of Homeless Encampment in Canada.