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UN slams US housing rights violations

The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) has called on the US government to recognize housing as a human right and ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The call came as the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing presented her report to the UN Human Rights Council meeting  in Geneva regarding the current state of housing rights in the US.

The report follows a two-week visit by the UN housing rights watchdog to the US late last year, in which she met with government agencies, grassroots organizations and housing advocates around the country. Her report reveals that millions of people living in the US today face serious challenges in accessing affordable and adequate housing.

“There is a human rights crisis in the US that can no longer be ignored – millions of Americans are unable to secure one of their most basic rights: the right to adequate housing,” said Salih Booker, Executive Director of COHRE.

The conclusion contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing noted that the economic crisis and significantly increasing numbers of foreclosures are driving up homelessness rates across the US, and that racial and gender discrimination plays a large role in the housing crisis currently being experienced by millions of Americans.

It also indicated that about 12.7 million US children – one in six – live in households spending more than half their income on housing, when the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of affordable housing is that a family spend no more than 30 percent of its income on housing. Also, the number of US households facing serious problems finding affordable housing increased by 33 percent between 2000 and 2007, with the poorest and most vulnerable people bearing the heaviest burden in terms of housing costs.


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