Housing: a Universal Right


The right to adequate housing is

English: States Parties and signatories of the...

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recognized at the international level and in more than one hundred

national constitutions throughout the world.  

It is a right recognized as valid for every individual person.

Housing corresponds to international law if certain minimal elements are guaranteed at all times.

legal security of tenure, including protection against forced eviction;

• availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure, including access to safe drinking water and sanitation;

• affordability, including for the poorest, through housing subsidies, protection against unreasonable rent levels or rent increases;

• habitability, including protection from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind and disease vectors;

• accessibility for disadvantaged groups, including to the elderly, children,

the physically disabled, the terminally ill and victims of natural disasters;

• location, far from polluted sites or pollution sources but near to health-care

services, schools, child-care centers and other social facilities.

The Committee has repeatedly emphasized the prohibition of forced evictions. In its General Comment No. 7, it defined forced eviction as:

“the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families

and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the

provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection.”

For the Committee, forced evictions are prima facie incompatible with the obligations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural

Rights and “all persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which

guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.”


V. Annex 1, General Comment No. 4 on the right to adequate housing (Article 11, § 1), § 7,

adopted 13 December 1991.


Ibid., § 8.


V. Annex 2, General Comment 7 on the right to adequate housing: forced evictions (Article 11,

§1), § 3, adopted 20 May 1997.


Ibid., § 1.


The right to adequate housing for women was recognized in the Convention

on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979).

According to Article 14, § 2(h), the states parties commit themselves to:

“to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure,

on a basis of equality of men and women… adequate living conditions,  

particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, 

transport and communications”



In the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the states parties commit

themselves to helping parents or other persons in charge of the child, 

particularly in providing shelter. Its Article 27, § 3, provides that:

“States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means,

shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the

child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance

and support programs, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.”

The list of countries is available on the internet site of Office of the U.N. High Commissioner

for Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/english/countries/ratification/index.htm.

Right to Housing

Nothing even remotely comparable exists in the area of housing, save a commitment by some states and localities to 10-year plans to end homelessness – a worthy goal, to be sure, but light-years away from a Right to Decent, Affordable Housing.

The arguments for a Right to Housing are straightforward: Housing is where people spend the most time, where family life is nurtured, so it should be safe, comfortable, supportive. Housing costs are, for most households, the largest expenditure and so should not be so high as to prevent meeting other basic needs – food, clothing, medical care, transportation, etc.

Housing is more than four walls and a roof: It is part of a neighborhood and community, providing opportunities for positive social interaction and safety from crime.

The societal costs – added health services to deal with housing-linked problems , – of not having decent, affordable housing for all are enormous and growing. A true cost-benefit analysis might show that not having a Right to Housing is far more costly, in economic terms alone, than not implementing such a right.

There is a great deal of support for having a Right to Housing. The U.S. Catholic Bishops, the Massachusetts Episcopal Diocese and the American Baptist Churches are a few of the faith-based sources. The National Association of Social Workers is representative of support from relevant professional groups. Many United Nations documents, as well as the laws of a great many other countries, advocate for and assert such a right. There is no shortage of authoritative, compelling pleadings.

We need to make politicians and candidates – for local, state and federal offices – speak to the housing problem and commit to effective ameliorate programs. And that in turn requires grassroots pressure.

We need to emphasize housing’s links to problems in the areas of health, education, income support, food, crime, employment, immigration, economic and community development. In doing so, we will create coalitions of social justice activists whose power will grow exponentially.

 It’s time to think seriously about mounting a public and political campaign to make decent, affordable housing a right for all Americans.

Copyright 2006

Chester Hartman (chartman@prrac.org ) is director of research at the Poverty & Race Research Action Council in Washington, DC. This article is adapted from one that appeared in National Perspectives on Housing Rights (Scott Leckie, ed., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2003) and is based on Hartman’s chapter in The Right to Housing: Foundation for A New Social Agenda (Temple University Press, 2006), which he co-edited with Rachel G. Bratt and Michael E. Stone.


US Code Link on Homelessness and the Govt’s responsibility:



Records and audit of National Board and recipients of assistance PART G – RURAL HOMELESS HOUSING ASSISTANCE 11408.  in homelessness, States, units of local government, and private voluntary organizations have been unable 


HPRP Participant Eligibility

October 24, 2011

Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Re-housing Program 
(HPRP) Participant Eligibility Overview
In order to be eligible for HPRP financial assistance, households must meet at least the
following minimum criteria:
1. Each household must meet with an HPRP case manager who will conduct an initial
consultation and eligibility assessment
2. The household must already have an existing rental agreement in place and not be subleasing (if seeking Prevention services)
3. All adults in the household must be willing to participate in 3-6 months of case
management (length of time varies with each agency)
4. The household’s total gross income must be at or below 50 percent of Area Median
5. The household must be at imminent risk of becoming homeless or already are
homeless   i.e. Have been given an eviction notice or currently staying at a homeless
6. And meet all of the following three circumstances:
a. Have not identified any appropriate subsequent housing options  i.e. Able to
relocate to a less expensive home or able to stay with family and save up money
for the security deposit on their own
b. The household lacks the financial resources to obtain immediate housing or
remain in its existing housing     i.e. Money in savings accounts and other assets
c. The household lacks support networks needed to obtain immediate housing or
remain in its existing housing    i.e. Relatives/friends who can provide the
household with financial assistance
*The criteria listed above are the minimum criteria set forth by HUD to determine
eligibility for HPRP. However, each HPRP agency may establish additional or more
stringent eligibility criteria and documentation requirements.
** HPRP assistance is ‘needs-based’, meaning each HPRP agency determines the amount
of assistance based on the minimum amount needed to prevent the program participant
from becoming homeless or returning to homelessness in the near term

Posted by Homeless Housewife. Posted In : The Theory of Housing Stability

Homeless Prevention Rapid Rehousing Program-

October 7, 2011

Santa Barbara’s Homeless Advocate’Bluff”The Idea was a Great One!   Homeless Prevention Rapid Rehousing Program-On February 17th, 2008 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) into law. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is administering $1.5 billion of this $787 billion stimulus package through its Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). HPRP funding is truly significant since it equals HUD’s entire annual homeless assistance budget.While the overall goal of HPRP is housing stability for those being helped, HPRP funds will provide two-fold relief:

1. Homelessness prevention assistance for households who would otherwise become homeless and

2. Rapid re-housing assistance for persons who are homeless.

HPRP funds are intended for short- and medium- term financial assistance for housing stabilization, linking program beneficiaries to community resources, and mainstream benefits and helping beneficiaries develop a plan for preventing future housing instability. It is noteworthy that HPRP funds are not for mortgage assistance nor are they intended to provide long-term support for beneficiaries.

HUD provides the following funding table to show the intended categories for distribution of HPRP funds:

Activity Funding Level
Direct financial assistance, such as rental assistance, etc. $820,875,000.00
Housing relocation and stabilization services $447,750,000.00
Data collection and evaluation by grantees $149,250,000.00
Grantee administrative costs $74,625,000.00
HUD will provide training, technical assistance, monitoring
enforcement, research and evaluation activities $7,500.000.00

TOTAL $1,500,000,000.00

By the terms of ARRA, each HPRP grantee must expend 60% of their grant within two years of receipt and 100% of its grant within three years of receipt of its grant.

With a grant minimum of $500,000, funds have been awarded to U.S. territories (0.2 percent of total funding allocation, i.e., $3 million), metropolitan cities, urban counties and states for distribution to local governments and private nonprofit organizations. There are 540 eligible grantees and funds have been awarded pursuant to the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, formally the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) Program, formula.

Under HRPR, grantees will provide reports on a monthly and quarterly basis and HUD will do remote monitoring. Further, grantees and subgrantees will collect data through the Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).

HPRP funds may benefit individuals or families with or without children for any number of months up to 18 months of assistance. However, these funds are to be paid only to third parties, such as landlords or utility companies, “in an effort to…avoid mismanagement of grant funds.”

The ultimate beneficiaries of HPRP funds, known as “participants,” are those people who are homeless or are at risk of being homeless. While HUD “allows grantees significant discretion in program design and operation,” it does admonish that “grantees and subgrantees should carefully assess a household’s need and appropriateness for HPRP.”

HUD sets forth the following minimum criteria that grantees of HPRP funds must consider before assisting individuals and families, whether homeless or housed:

1. Participants must have initial consultation with a case manager     who can determine the appropriate type of assistance to meet their        needs,

2. Participating household must be at or below 50 percent of the Area        Median Income (AMI). While income limits are available at          www.huduser.org/DATASETS/il.html, grantees are advised to use HUD’s Section 8 income eligibility standards for HPRP and

3. Participating households must be either homeless or at risk of losing its housing and
(1) No appropriate housing options have been identified, plus
(2) The household lacks the financial resources and support                         networks    needed to obtain immediate housing or remain in                        its existing      housing.

Regarding the prevention of homelessness, HUD “strongly encourages” its HPRP grantees and subgrantees to assist those individuals and families at the “greatest risk of becoming homeless.” It asks that grantees and subgrantees remember to ask themselves, “Would this individual or family be homeless but for this assistance?”

Grantees in California include:

Moreno Valley                                                     732,872.00
Norwalk                                                               633,782.00
Oakland                                                               3,458,120.00
Oceanside                                                            742,791.00
Ontario                                                                997,869.00
Orange                                                                 545,636.00
Oxnard                                                                1,124,994.00
Palmdale                                                              615,530.00
Pasadena                                                             908,395.00
Pomona                                                               1,164,766.00
Rialto                                                                   546,485.00
Richmond                                                            559,735.00
Riverside                                                              1,383,070.00
Sacramento                                                         2,375,126.00
Salinas                                                                 1,013,978.00
San Bernardino                                                   1,455,066.00
San Diego                                                            6,168,104.00
San Francisco                                                      8,757,780.00
San Jose                                                              4,128,763.00
Santa Ana                                                            2,831,989.00
Santa Maria                                                         521,839.00
Santa Monica                                                      553,576.00
Santa Rosa                                                          516,527.00
South Gate                                                                    865,273.00
Stockton                                                              1,725,572.00
Sunnyvale                                                            508,191.00
Westminster                                                       511,454.00

Alameda County                                                 802,915.00

Contra Costa County                                          1,421,551.00
Fresno County                                                    1,634,630.00
Los Angeles County                                            12,197,108.00
Kern County                                                        2,076,503.00
Marin County                                                      659,106.00
Orange County                                                    1,556,026.00
Riverside County                                                 4,276,900.00
Sacramento County                                            2,396,773.00
San Bernardino County                                      3,040,382.00
San Diego County                                               1,925,974.00
San Joaquin County                                           1,460.619.00
San Luis Obispo Country                                   855,184.00
San Mateo County                                              1,166,526.00
Santa Barbara County                                        829,013.00
Santa Clara County                                             717,484.00
Sonoma County                                                  817,572.00
Stanislaus County                                               1,023,163.00
Ventura County                                                  826,094.00

State of California                                               44,466,877.00

Funding directly allocated to the State of California is the largest state allocation in the U.S. to date and is being distributed to 31 California agencies and local governments. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has commented, “This funding will boost efforts helping those who find themselves on the edge of homelessness and add support for the homeless – and it couldn’t have come at a better time thanks to President Obama’s Recovery Act.”

What outcomes are hoped to be achieved through HPRP?

• Reducing the length of stay in shelters or in homelessness
• Reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time
• Increasing the number of people who are diverted from shelter to stable housing
• Reducing repeat episodes of homelessness
• Reducing the number of people overall who are homeless

For additional information about HPRP, please visit www.HUD.gov/recovery and www.HUDHR.info.

Posted by The Homeless Housewife. Posted In : The Theory of Housing Stability


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