Today we submitted a report on housing rights violations to the UN as part of the Universal Periodic Review process. Trying to squeeze all of the violations of housing rights into ten short pages was tough, but we came out with a very solid, strategic report that we can use to hold our government accountable to respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the right to housing for all in the U.S.
One of the best parts of producing the report was working with participants from a wide coalition of national and local housing organizations, ranging from DC policy advocates to local Section 8 housing tenants councils, people working on the disparate impact of HIV and homelessness on women, to documentary filmmakers bringing the forced evictions of artists in NYC to life. In all 14 different organizations contributed to the drafting and an additional 54 organizations endorsed the report.
We launched the report yesterday at an event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia – emphasizing that our country’s long legacy of protecting human rights is incomplete until those rights are protected for all. I spoke on a panel with a brave woman, Myra Young, one of the Witnesses to Hunger, mothers who are using digital cameras to document their daily experience raising children in Philadelphia on a limited income, fighting against slum lords, poverty, and violence in their communities. While our report laid out the legal analysis, her pictures were worth a thousand words to show the reality of what needs to change to bring the human right to housing home to the U.S.
We’ll remind you when it gets closer, but mark your calendars for the webcast of the official review from Geneva on November 5. Let’s work to make sure all those recommendations don’t stay just words on paper, but get brought back here to the Administration, Congress, and state and local representatives so we can make the right to housing real!
-Eric Tars, Human Rights Program Director