(March 19, 2020, Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced the Housing is a Human Right Act of 2020. The bill, co-sponsored by Representative Grace Meng (NY-06), aims to “address and end root causes of homelessness; transition communities towards providing housing for all; and ensure full democratic participation of persons experiencing homelessness.” For these reasons, the Law Center is proud to have worked with Representative Jayapal’s office to develop the Housing is a Human Right Act.
This bill comes at a time when housing and health matter more than ever. Now, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, we are witnessing why we have fought so long for safe and healthy housing for everyone in the U.S., especially for those who are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness: youth, communities of color, transgender and gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans.
“Our Nation was founded on the principle that everyone is entitled to the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and with the emerging threat of coronavirus, it has never been more clear that those rights must include the basic human right to housing,” said Maria Foscarinis, Founder and Executive Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
“The Housing is a Human Right Act will help communities address homelessness with housing, not handcuffs; with services, not sweeps,” she continued. “To help our fellow Americans living on the streets in the coming months and beyond, we must understand that housing IS health care, and both are human rights.”
“The Housing is a Human Right Act implements key features of our national Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign, including by bringing the language of housing as a human right into national legislation,” said Eric Tars, Legal Director at the Law Center. “By both providing resources to communities to end homelessness and incentives to discourage the counterproductive, cruel, and unconstitutional approach of criminalizing homelessness, this bill takes a major step toward making the human right to housing a reality.”
To effectively address the dual crisis of homelessness and housing instability, we must implement the human right to housing, and this bill is the first step. We hope the Housing is a Human Right Act propels more lawmakers and candidates to discuss the homelessness crisis, housing affordability, and ways to combat the criminalization of homelessness in the context of human rights.
We look forward to continuing our work with Representative Jayapal’s office and encouraging our partners and supporters to endorse the Housing is a Human Right Act. Together we will push for adequate, stable, permanently affordable housing to end homelessness in America. Endorse today!
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.