Homeless – A Human Rights Issue


Homeless – a human rights issue

Homelessness or houselessness is a situation in which people do not have a stable, safe and affordable place to live. It is a universal phenomenon with complex and interrelated causes. A person can be homeless for many reasons, including a lack of affordable housing, a job loss or other financial difficulties, a physical or mental health crisis, or a disaster. People experiencing homelessness often face discrimination and may be at risk of violence or exploitation. They can also be excluded from access to social, economic and political rights.

Although the number of homeless people varies depending on the definition used, there is an overall trend towards rising numbers. It is estimated that more than a million people are living without a home in the United States, up from about 750,000 in 2007. The increase is most dramatic among youth. One in 10 young adults are homeless and one in 30 youths have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. These trends are especially disturbing for people who are LGBTQ or have experienced trauma or abuse in their lives. They are more likely to be displaced, experience repeated episodes of homelessness and have the highest rate of early death compared with their peers.

The majority of homeless people live in cities, where they are most concentrated. In the United States, a large proportion of the homeless population lives in the largest cities such as New York City and Los Angeles. The remainder is scattered across the country, although it is particularly difficult to provide services for people living in rural areas and small towns. There is no single solution to homelessness, but it is important to recognize that the issue is a human rights issue. In addition, a right to adequate housing is essential for the enjoyment of virtually all other human rights, including the right to life and non-discrimination.

A key challenge is to ensure that people experiencing homelessness have access to healthcare. This is important for both their physical and mental wellbeing. However, it can be difficult for people who are homeless to maintain a regular connection with healthcare providers because they do not have access to transportation. Additionally, they may be at increased risk of substance abuse and mental health issues because of the stigma and discrimination they experience. It is therefore important that healthcare providers are trained to work with homeless patients and that they understand the barriers that these individuals face.

A comprehensive and holistic approach to homelessness is necessary, which includes the promotion of affordable housing and public policies that prioritize the needs of vulnerable groups such as women, children, indigenous peoples and people living with a disability. States must use “all available resources” to achieve this goal, in line with their obligations under international human rights law. Failure to do so can amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, prohibited under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.