UN Special Rapporteur: Housing costs and homelessness rates are rising around the world

Спецдокладчик ООН: во всем мире растет стоимость жилья и показатели бездомности

View of Manhattan, New York. UN Special Rapporteur: Housing costs and homelessness rates are rising around the world Human rights

Housing costs are rising all over the world and homelessness rates are increasing, a UN expert said at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Millions of people live in informal settlements and substandard buildings. He also proposed recognizing the destruction of housing during conflict as a crime against humanity.

“So many people are being evicted due to rising rents, and the homeless population continues to skyrocket. I would like to recall that affordability is a key element of the right to adequate housing as enshrined in international law,” said Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Balakrishnan Rajagopal.

He reminded states of the need to provide affordable housing and welcomed the adoption of a resolution on homelessness by the General Assembly in December 2023. In it, members of the international community noted that “homelessness is a global problem that affects people of different ages, belonging to different economic, social and cultural groups and living in both developed and developing countries.”

Rajagopal said that he is currently working with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty on a report on the decriminalization of poverty and homelessness. The expert also discussed his trip to San Diego, California, to study efforts to combat evictions and provide affordable housing.

Affordable Housing and Conflicts

Addressing to the conflicts of our day and recent decades, Rajagopal condemned the destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure during military operations, citing as examples Aleppo, Grozny, Mariupol, Gaza, Myanmar and Sudan.

He repeated his call in 2022 for international action to prevent violations of the right to adequate housing, ban the use of explosives in populated areas and recognize the destruction of housing in conflict as a crime against humanity.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip is shocking to the conscience of humanity: since October 7, 2023, more than 70 percent of all housing stock in the Gaza Strip and more than 80 percent in parts of the northern Gaza Strip have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 1.5 million people were forced to leave their homes,” Rajagopal said.

“Everything that makes housing “adequate” – access to services, work or culture, schools, places of worship, universities, hospitals – has all been destroyed. The scale and intensity of the destruction is far worse than in Aleppo, Mariupol or even Dresden and Rotterdam during World War II. Along with other special rapporteurs, last week I called on states to stop supplying weapons to Israel that are being used to destroy homes and displace people in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Visit to the Netherlands

In December Last year, the Special Rapporteur traveled to the Netherlands, where he visited social housing areas, homeless shelters, caravan parks, and villages affected by earthquakes caused by natural gas drilling. Rajagopal talked with people who found themselves in a difficult situation and deprived of normal housing.

In the report following the visit, the expert analyzed the situation in the housing sector and the need to realize the right to adequate housing in the country. He drew particular attention to the vulnerable situation of refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers, students, caravan residents, as well as people with disabilities and homeless people.

The human rights activist recommended that the Dutch authorities strengthen the protection of tenants and control over rent increases and improve living conditions for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, including those from Ukraine.

Special rapporteurs are part of the so-called “special procedures” of the Human Rights Council. They are not UN employees and are not dependent on any government or organization. They work in a personal capacity and are not paid for their work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *