Economic Human Rights (9): Homelessness

Without your own house, it is difficult to have and enjoy private property. Hence you are more likely to suffer poverty. Without a house or your own place in the world and without your own intimate and personal things, it is obviously more difficult to have a private life. The four walls of your private house protect you against the public.

Independence, self-reliance, autonomy, and therefore freedom are capacities which rely heavily on private property and a private place. Private property and a private place are also important for the creation and maintenance of relationships. When you have your own house and your own place in the world, you can live in a particular world, in a very concrete social context of friends, enemies, neighbors and other types of relationships. A place in the world is always a place in a particular community.

Therefore it seems that homelessness is not only a violation of a human right as such (the right to housing, article 25 of the Universal Declaration) but makes it very difficult to enjoy other human rights as well. Examples are the right to the absence of poverty (also article 25 of the Universal Declaration) and the right to private property (article 17 of the Universal Declaration), but it also hinders freedom in general, freedom in the sense of independence and autonomy.

2 thoughts on “Economic Human Rights (9): Homelessness”

  1. I am involved with a special group examining the need for basic services to individuals and families (i.e. food, clothing, shelter, respite from abuse, utility assistance) We are attempting to adopt or modify definitions for “safety net” services for each of these examples) Would appreciate any asistance you can offer. Ray

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    1. Hi Ray, that sounds interesting. I may need some more information so as to know exactly how I can be of assistance.

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