In an earlier post, Eric shared his rising hope that the idea that housing is a human right may be gaining some traction among key government officials. Today, I’m feeling it too.
I just got back from hearing a keynote address by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Housing Justice network conference. It felt like a breath of fresh air—and that’s not just because it’s a beautiful spring-like day in DC. It’s because this Secretary believes and says that housing is a human right! Barbara Sard, formerly of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and currently special advisor for rental housing at HUD, introduced the Secretary and told this anecdote: A group of activists came to meet with the Secretary and asked him whether he believed that housing is a human right. To their surprise, he said, simply and unequivocally, “Yes.”
Obviously, saying the words is not enough. But it was refreshing to hear and the right place to start. And I’m giving us some credit for this since the Law Center raised this specifically with him when we met one-on-one. He was interested in thinking about housing through a human rights framework and asked for more information, which we happily sent. Shaun Donovan was my intern many (too many!) years ago, and I know he’s committed to and knowledgeable about homelessness and low-income housing. He’ll need to back up his words with action, and we’ll be holding him accountable.
Still, the words were nice to hear.
-Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director
Between here/now and the goal, an actual place to call home, we have a time span to cross and a physical manifestation to be created before what we believe becomes a reality. What is the strategy we will use and what are the tactics we will employ to make this happen?
The current results fall short of that goal. The National consciousness somehow rebels at the price tag this Bill of Rights inventory item represents. More than a little hesitant to say the least. A chicken in every pot was easier to accept. A McMansion for everybody conflicts with our puritan ethics that some are more equal than others. The conflict with the American Dream is a strategic error.
The Fabric of America deserves a larger loom in which to be woven upon. We say that we cannot when in truth it is we won’t. The conditions we cite are most times human decisions creating these conditions. Examine the different sectors involved and the leverage points should appear. My inalienable Right to Pursue my Safety is far more fundamental than that which money cannot buy, a thing called Happiness.
The protection of my right to pursue safety deserves a closer look at on a class level. Waiting for 50 states and commonwealths to see this the same way at the same time is only proof that this must be addressed on the Federal Level. Strategically speaking the safety issue may be the knife with which to cut this ghordian knot.