The Human Right to Housing

Everyone has the right to live with dignity. No one should be denied their right to adequate housing.

More than 200,000 communities in the world can be defined as slums. People living in slums experience a staggering number of human rights violations: more than 1 billion people are routinely denied adequate housing, safe water, sanitation and drainage, electricity, health and education. They face the constant threat of violence, and forced eviction.

These communities, where residents live, work, and raise their children, are characterized by grossly inadequate housing and living conditions, lack of basic services, and overcrowding. In some countries, people living in slums also experience high levels of violence – both from the police and criminal gangs.

Governments are failing in their duty to ensure that the human rights of those who live in these communities are fulfilled.

More and more people are being forced to live in slums and informal settlements. Disinvestment in rural areas, conflict, natural disasters, climate change, forced evictions and corporate land grabbing continue to force people to migrate to urban areas where affordable housing is scarce.

Far from being a problem exclusive to developing countries, there are similar issues of deprivation, insecurity, exclusion and lack of voice in poor neighborhoods in the USA, in and around European cities, and in areas reserved for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Australia.

Resources for more information:

  • Read Amnesty International's report, Insecurity and Indignity: Women's experiences in the slums of Nairobi
  • Read Amnesty International's report, Cambodia: Urban Development or Relocating Slums?
  • Read Amnesty International's report, Un-Natural Disaster: Human Rights in the Gulf Coast
  • Learn More: Housing Facebook Chat Transcript
  • Learn More: Ten facts about Haiti's housing crisis
  • Check out Amnesty International's Education for Human Dignity Resource Pack on Housing is a Human Right
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