What’s the relationship between the human rights to health and housing?

Section: Policy into PracticeType: News Item Date Published: 10th May 2021
Human Rights image

With Shelter Scotland, the ALLIANCE commissioned researchers at The Poverty Alliance to find out.

With the prospect of a Scottish Human Rights Bill on the horizon that will bring international law on the rights to health and housing into Scots law, the ALLIANCE and Shelter Scotland wanted to know more about the relationship between these two rights. We asked The Poverty Alliance to carry out a desk-based research project of international evidence.

The researchers found that:

  • Political and legal factors can prevent the realisation of the rights to health and housing by citizens.
  • The effective realisation of the rights to health and housing requires legislation as well as accountability and responsibility amongst key stakeholders (e.g. national and local government, public services and the private sector).
  • Rights-based, participative approaches at state level have a key role in aiding effective realisation of citizens’ rights to health and housing. For example, in Scotland, regulatory bodies support citizens to uphold their human rights through the Scottish Housing Regulator and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
  • Local government is a key actor in the fulfilment of the rights to health and housing given its responsibility for delivery of direct services to citizens. Internationally, there are examples of local governments setting up human rights councils and local ombudsman to support citizens to uphold their rights.
  • Data is key to monitoring progressive realisation of the rights to health and housing at state level. The United Nation’s Human Rights Index and the Universal Periodic Review serve as tools to assess and explore countries’ progression in the implementation of rights.
  • Lack of resources, training and awareness present challenges to promoting human rights across public services. For the rights to health and housing to be effectively realised, a culture and ethos of recognising citizens as rights holders in public service design and delivery is required.
  • In many states, health ministries have not engaged fully with the health impacts of housing, in part because the right to housing is often considered to be the responsibility of other government departments.
  • There are many examples of an explicit focus on health as well as housing at state level within homelessness strategies in recent years. For example, the Housing First model has created effective systems of support that recognise the intersection between health issues and housing for at risk populations.

The full report is available to download at the link below.

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