Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Citiscope: Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure

Citiscope: Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure

by Leilani Farha

Go deeper and we see that, around the world, millions upon millions of people are invisibly homeless. This includes women, children and youths who find refuge with others, doubled or tripled up. This also includes multiple-generation families living in crammed shacks lacking even the most basic services, who at a moment’s notice may be evicted, often for a second or third time.

And then there’s the aspect of homelessness that is rarely mentioned, let alone tackled: criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization. Homeless people are often denied access to basic services such as water or sanitation, and are even fined for engaging in activities necessary for their own survival — for instance, eating and sleeping in public spaces. They are treated like “human waste”, sometimes forced to establish their households on or next to garbage dumps.

Homelessness is not just one of the most extreme forms of physical deprivation; it also defines a group that is subject to extreme forms of discrimination and violence. For homeless people, it’s double jeopardy: Laws and policies create homelessness and then penalize homeless people for being homeless.

I agree, though I think the author focuses too much on the causes of homelessness. That plays into the hands of policymakers who place barriers to the provision of housing as the solution to homelessness.

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