New Report Card Issued to Assess U.S. Progress on Housing Rights


Failing grades received on multiple international standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 2, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — As students across the country receive their final grades for the semester, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has released a report card grading the United States on its response to homelessness and its compliance with the human right to housing. “Simply Unacceptable”: Homelessness and the Human Right to Housing in the U.S. issues failing grades in more than one category, according to international standards.

According to international standards, the human right to housing consists of seven elements: security of tenure; availability of services, materials, and infrastructure; affordability; accessibility; habitability; location; and cultural adequacy. This report gives the U.S. letter grades on each of them. It also offers common sense solutions the U.S. can adopt to better meet the housing needs of homeless and poor people.

The report calls for the continuation and increased funding for a successful homelessness prevention program, funding for federally subsidized housing, making laws protecting tenants of foreclosed properties from eviction permanent, and the creation of a federal living wage.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the Law Center, said, “This report shows that our federal government’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness are not sufficient. The U.S. falls short on every objective measure of the human right to housing.”

Recent studies show that homelessness is rising across the country. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported a 9 percent increase in family homelessness last year, and with 1.2 million foreclosures expected in 2011 – more than any other year in American history – advocates anticipate it will only get worse.

Polls show that three-quarters of Americans believe that housing is a basic human right, and the right to housing is explicitly recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international documents signed by the United States. But despite its obligations, the U.S. has yet to take the necessary steps to actualize that right.

Eric Tars, the Law Center’s human rights director, was the primary researcher and writer of the report. He said, “Implementing the human right to housing doesn’t mean the government has to provide housing for all free of charge, but it’s not enough just to offer emergency shelter. We need to address this in a comprehensive way that recognizes housing is an essential component of human dignity. And with millions of people sliding into poverty and homelessness each year, as Americans, we know we must do better, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.”

The Law Center will discuss its findings, and strategies to address them, at its National Forum on the Human Right to Housing, June 7-8 at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Washington, D.C. The Forum will bring together advocates, government officials, and homeless and formerly homeless people from across the country to discuss how to make the human right to housing a reality.

Read the full report at

More information about the National Forum on the Human Right to Housing is available at

The press is welcome to attend all sessions at the Forum.

Whitney Gent
Phone: 202-638-2535

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