More Than a Commodity: The Right to Adequate Housing
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Like rights-based claims to health and food, recognizing housing as a human right in the United States is a contested process marked by a number of promising local campaigns. This chapter outlines a nascent movement to assure decent and affordable housing based on a human rights perspective. Community organizations and legal advocacy groups are increasingly using human rights standards and monitoring processes to help reframe access to housing in the United States. This chapter provides an outline of what the human right to adequate housing means in international law, provides background on US housing policy, and describes the country’s stance on human rights obligations regarding the right to housing. The chapter also addresses the role of community practice in transforming ideas about housing as a human right into action. Through examples of rights-based campaigns for housing at the national level led by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) and local organizing in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, the authors highlight ways that community-based social workers can participate in the realization of such a right.