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