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Housing, Homelessness, & Human Rights Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Eric Tars Human Rights Program Director.

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Presentation on theme: "Housing, Homelessness, & Human Rights Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Eric Tars Human Rights Program Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 Housing, Homelessness, & Human Rights Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Webinar April 27, 2010 Eric Tars Human Rights Program Director Phone: Web: wiki.nlchp.org

2 Why Human Rights? We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights. -Martin Luther King, Jr. May 4, 1967 As a boy, I sought Civil Rights, but as a man I seek Human Rights. Civil Rights are too small for what we must do. -Ted Shaw, Director-Counsel, NAACP LDF, February 26, 2010 We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights. -Martin Luther King, Jr. May 4, 1967 As a boy, I sought Civil Rights, but as a man I seek Human Rights. Civil Rights are too small for what we must do. -Ted Shaw, Director-Counsel, NAACP LDF, February 26, 2010

3 Why Human Rights? Human Rights are based in human dignity.

4 Why Human Rights? Human rights are universal and interdependent. Human rights combine traditional civil and political rights with economic, social, and cultural rights. Human rights allow different actors to see their causes under same umbrella. Human rights are universal and interdependent. Human rights combine traditional civil and political rights with economic, social, and cultural rights. Human rights allow different actors to see their causes under same umbrella.

5 Why Today? Wall Street bailoutWall Street bailout Ongoing foreclosure crisisOngoing foreclosure crisis Increasing homelessness, and increasing harassment of homeless personsIncreasing homelessness, and increasing harassment of homeless persons Deterioration and destruction of public housingDeterioration and destruction of public housing Lack of subsidized housingLack of subsidized housing Racially disparate impactRacially disparate impact Wall Street bailoutWall Street bailout Ongoing foreclosure crisisOngoing foreclosure crisis Increasing homelessness, and increasing harassment of homeless personsIncreasing homelessness, and increasing harassment of homeless persons Deterioration and destruction of public housingDeterioration and destruction of public housing Lack of subsidized housingLack of subsidized housing Racially disparate impactRacially disparate impact

6 Setting the stage Origins & content of the right to housing Using human rights in the U.S. Rotating door of human rights language - international to domestic Origins & content of the right to housing Using human rights in the U.S. Rotating door of human rights language - international to domestic

7 Origins of the Right to Housing We have adopted a second Bill of Rights among these are the right of every family to a decent home. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, State of the Union Address (1944) We have adopted a second Bill of Rights among these are the right of every family to a decent home. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, State of the Union Address (1944)

8 Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 25(1): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself [/herself] and of his [/her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of … circumstances beyond his [or her] control. Art. 25(1): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself [/herself] and of his [/her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of … circumstances beyond his [or her] control.

9 Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights...was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society. - Pope Benedict XVI: Address to the United Nations, 18 April 2008 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights...was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society. - Pope Benedict XVI: Address to the United Nations, 18 April 2008

10 International Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural Rights Article 11(1): The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for him[/her]self and his [/her] family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. Article 11(1): The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for him[/her]self and his [/her] family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.

11 What does the right to housing require? Progressive realization Relative standard, dependent on resources Non-discriminatory impact & intent Progressive realization Relative standard, dependent on resources Non-discriminatory impact & intent

12 Elements of the Right to Housing General Comment 4 –Legal security of tenure –Services and infrastructure available –Affordability –Habitability –Accessibility –Location (work, school, child care) –Cultural adequacy General Comment 4 –Legal security of tenure –Services and infrastructure available –Affordability –Habitability –Accessibility –Location (work, school, child care) –Cultural adequacy

13 Other homelessness-related rights Right to life and security of person Right to identity Freedom of travel Freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment Freedom from discrimination Right to life and security of person Right to identity Freedom of travel Freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment Freedom from discrimination

14 Using Intl Law in US Courts Effectiveness –Roper v. Simmons (Juvenile Death Penalty) Challenges –Ratification –RUDs Litigation strategy –Build international record –Not straight enforcement, but read US law consistent with international law Effectiveness –Roper v. Simmons (Juvenile Death Penalty) Challenges –Ratification –RUDs Litigation strategy –Build international record –Not straight enforcement, but read US law consistent with international law

15 Ratification Signed by President, ratified by 2/3 of Senate Art. VI (2) [A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. Signed by President, ratified by 2/3 of Senate Art. VI (2) [A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

16 U.S. Ratified Treaties International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD or CERD) Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD or CERD) Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

17 U.S. Non-Ratified Treaties International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (Migrant Workers Convention) International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (Migrant Workers Convention)

18 Making it Specific: Enforcement through treaties International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) –Art. 2 - right to non- discrimination –Art. 6 - right to life –Art rights of minorities International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) –Article 5(e) right to non- discrimination in housing International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) –Art. 2 - right to non- discrimination –Art. 6 - right to life –Art rights of minorities International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) –Article 5(e) right to non- discrimination in housing Human Rights Committee (HRC) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Human Rights Committee (HRC) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

19 Shadow reporting US Reports to Committees NGOs issue shadow reports (like amicus briefs) Advocacy in Geneva Concluding Observations from Committee US Reports to Committees NGOs issue shadow reports (like amicus briefs) Advocacy in Geneva Concluding Observations from Committee

20 HRC Concluding Observation 22 The Committee is concerned by reports that some 50 % of homeless people are African American although they constitute only 12 % of the U.S. population. (articles 2 and 26) The State party should take measures, including adequate and adequately implemented policies, to ensure the cessation of this form of de facto and historically generated racial discrimination. The Committee is concerned by reports that some 50 % of homeless people are African American although they constitute only 12 % of the U.S. population. (articles 2 and 26) The State party should take measures, including adequate and adequately implemented policies, to ensure the cessation of this form of de facto and historically generated racial discrimination.

21 Human Rights after Katrina Anti-camping ordinance Would have criminalized sleeping on streetsWould have criminalized sleeping on streets Opposed with Constitutional argumentsOpposed with Constitutional arguments Combined with Human Rights Committee and CERD recommendationsCombined with Human Rights Committee and CERD recommendations Would have criminalized sleeping on streetsWould have criminalized sleeping on streets Opposed with Constitutional argumentsOpposed with Constitutional arguments Combined with Human Rights Committee and CERD recommendationsCombined with Human Rights Committee and CERD recommendations

22 Human Rights after Katrina Anti-camping ordinance Laws criminalizing homelessness that will certainly have a disproportionate impact on African American communities in New Orleans fly in the face of these recommendations.

23 Human Rights after Katrina Anti-camping ordinance …Just over a month ago at the review before the CERD, a representative of the U.S. government stated that many agencies of the U.S. government... have responsibilities for implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination including the states of the United States, as well as other governmental entities such as its cities and counties… -Opening Statement to CERD cited in New Orleans Advocacy Letter …Just over a month ago at the review before the CERD, a representative of the U.S. government stated that many agencies of the U.S. government... have responsibilities for implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination including the states of the United States, as well as other governmental entities such as its cities and counties… -Opening Statement to CERD cited in New Orleans Advocacy Letter

24 Minneapolis Anti-lurking ordinance

25 Results?Results? New Orleans ordinance tabledNew Orleans ordinance tabled Minneapolis ordinance stopped enforcementMinneapolis ordinance stopped enforcement Puyallup, WA considering alternativesPuyallup, WA considering alternatives Seattle ordinance vetoedSeattle ordinance vetoed New Orleans ordinance tabledNew Orleans ordinance tabled Minneapolis ordinance stopped enforcementMinneapolis ordinance stopped enforcement Puyallup, WA considering alternativesPuyallup, WA considering alternatives Seattle ordinance vetoedSeattle ordinance vetoed

26 Treaty as Interpretive Guide Victoria (City) v. Adams, 2008 BCSC 1363 First, interfering with the ability to erect shelter interferes with the provision of the basic necessities of life. Second, preventing homeless persons from creating shelter for themselves in public spaces interferes with their liberty interests. Third, preventing homeless persons from erecting shelter for themselves interferes with their basic bodily integrity, and thus constitutes interference with security of the person.

27 Other Enforcement Mechanisms Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs, UN Experts Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs, UN Experts Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

28 Special Rapporteur Report Developing alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness and allowing homeless persons to shelter themselves; Expanding the use of vacant properties for housing; Expanding the definition of homelessness to include doubled up families; Passing H.Res. 582 which supports children s right to adequate housing and taking additional steps to achieve that goal; Developing alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness and allowing homeless persons to shelter themselves; Expanding the use of vacant properties for housing; Expanding the definition of homelessness to include doubled up families; Passing H.Res. 582 which supports children s right to adequate housing and taking additional steps to achieve that goal;

29 Special Rapporteur Report Increasing funding for the maintenance and restoration of public housing, a moratorium on demolitions and one-for-one replacement of subsidized units; Strengthening fair housing enforcement; Expanding source-of-income discrimination protection at the national level; Removing barriers to accessing subsidized housing. Increasing funding for the maintenance and restoration of public housing, a moratorium on demolitions and one-for-one replacement of subsidized units; Strengthening fair housing enforcement; Expanding source-of-income discrimination protection at the national level; Removing barriers to accessing subsidized housing.

30 Human Rights in the U.S. Review –Treaties –Concluding Observations –Other UN experts –Revolving door of international law into national law Review –Treaties –Concluding Observations –Other UN experts –Revolving door of international law into national law

31 Upcoming Opportunities Universal Periodic ReviewUniversal Periodic Review Human Rights Committee ReviewHuman Rights Committee Review World Habitat DayWorld Habitat Day World Homelessness DayWorld Homelessness Day Make Your Own!Make Your Own! Universal Periodic ReviewUniversal Periodic Review Human Rights Committee ReviewHuman Rights Committee Review World Habitat DayWorld Habitat Day World Homelessness DayWorld Homelessness Day Make Your Own!Make Your Own!

32 Housing and Human Rights: The Rising Wave Human Rights can contribute to policy, litigation, and community organizing solutions Human rights can work at the local, state, and federal level Human Rights can contribute to policy, litigation, and community organizing solutions Human rights can work at the local, state, and federal level

33 Discussion & Questions Eric Tars


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