US Issues Human Rights Report, Downplays Housing Rights Violations

On Friday December 30, 2011, the United States Government issued its Fourth Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The report, over 400 pages long, contains numerous references to human rights issues of interest to housing advocates, including: fair housing, foreclosures, public housing, racial, gender, and disability-based discrimination, domestic violence, and homelessness.   To aid advocates in responding to the report, the Law Center has produced a summary of housing references.

While the report acknowledges housing rights haven’t been fully implemented, it fails to discuss the depth and scale of that issue.  For example, while lauding the Administration’s stimulus funding for housing and homelessness prevention programs, the report does not mention the number of foreclosures, the fact that foreclosures and evictions continue to increase, or the inadequate assistance given to those seeking to avoid foreclosure and homelessness.

The official hearing before the Human Rights Committee on the report will not be scheduled until later this year, but it seems unlikely the hearing will occur prior to the Committee’s March 2013 session.  In the meantime, advocates can organize suggested questions for the Committee to put to the U.S.  They can also lay the groundwork for using the hearing and report to shine a light on current housing violations here at home.

In an effort to advance a rights-based approach to housing, the Law Center has taken the lead on coordinating a response from housing and human rights organizations, in collaboration with the US Human Rights Network, which is coordinating responses across issue areas.  If you would like to be included in the housing and homelessness sub-committee, please contact Eric Tars, director of human Rights and children’s rights programs.

– Tiffany Malcolm, Human Rights and Global Economy Fellow

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