Skip to footer

What makes housing a human right?


Safe and reliable shelter is necessary to live a healthy life that’s within your control. The right to housing has been codified by international law but is not protected by the US constitution.

The US Constitution’s Bill of Rights outlines peoples’ rights in relation to the US government and is probably the closest governing document we have to a human rights declaration. The Bill of Rights protects human rights like freedom of speech, freedom to organize, freedom to practice religion, but it does not protect human rights like health, food, education, or housing.

Without shelter, food, and water, it's much harder to meet other needs like safety, employment, health, or love. These basic needs contribute to our stability as individuals and families. Like Aristotle said, “family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants.” The health of our society is directly linked to our personal health.

Individual rights are never just individual. Their presence or lack thereof affects us all—Black or white, rich or poor. Once people's basic needs are met, they create more bonds in their community. They become less inclined to engage in criminal activity. They contribute more to their families and a healthy society as a whole.

When everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, we all prosper.