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Right To Adequate Housing

The right to adequate housing forms part of the right to an adequate standard of living; it means that everyone has the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity.

It includes:

  • Protection against forced evictions and the arbitrary destruction and demolition of one’s home;
  • The right to be free from arbitrary interference with one’s home, privacy and family;
  • The right to choose one’s residence, to determine where to live and to freedom of movement;
  • Equal and non-discriminatory access to adequate housing;
  • Participation in decision-making related to housing at the national and community levels;
  • Safe housing that is free of domestic or sexual violence.

Despite the centrality of the right to adequate housing, millions around the world live in conditions that are threatening to their life or to their health, for example in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity.

In depth…

Adequate housing must provide more than just protection from the natural elements. A number of conditions must be met before particular forms of shelter can be considered to constitute “adequate housing”; at a minimum, housing must meet the following criteria:

  • Protecting against forced eviction: everyone should have a degree of security that guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.
  • Affordability: the cost of housing should not threaten the ability to enjoy other rights such as food, education, healthcare, etc.
  • Habitability: adequate housing should provide adequate space, protection from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, and diseases.
  • Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure: adequate housing requires access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, etc.
  • Accessibility: housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account (such as the poor, people facing discrimination; persons with disabilities, victims of natural disasters).
  • Location: adequate housing must allow access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centers and other social facilities and should not be built on polluted sites nor close to pollution sources.
  • Cultural adequacy: Adequate housing should respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity and ways of life.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more, check out:

Right To A Clean, Healthy And Sustainable Environment

A clean, healthy and sustainable environment is key to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation.