Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing (Bibliography)



What is the human right to housing?  This article explains that the human right to housing is protected under international law and identifies some critical elements of the right to housing.

Bringing a right to affordable housing to California. While probably not especially useful for debates, this article lays out what an affordable program would look like based on this propose California program.

Housing as a human right. This recent (2016) report describes current efforts (and lack thereof) to protect housing rights in the US.


Human right to housing in the 27 member states of the EU. Although the article is about the Europe (and Europe may be topical under the resolution), it does discuss the importance of housing, international legal laws the protect it, the importance of “guaranteeing” it, and different international organizations that protect it.


The Case for a Right to Housing.  This web article makes a general case for a right to housing, arguing that it would cost $80-$100 billion.  Note: Trump and some Republicans have suggested increasing the defense budget by $80-$100 billion.

Simply Unacceptable: Homelessness and the Human Right to Housing.  This paper  outlines why a rights-based approach to housing should be utilized. It reviews many areas particular areas (homelessness, lack of safe housing (crime, violence against women), lack of housing in environmentally safe areas, poor Native American housing, failure to enforce discrimination laws) and argues that significant action needs to be taken to provide a right to housing in the United States.

The right to housing – law, concepts, and possibilities.  This is the introductory chapter of a book with the same title. The introductory chapter has some useful material, particularly the claim that a “right to housing” refers to what is recognized under international law, whereas a “housing right” refers to what is protected by domestic law. This lends further support to an international read of the topic.

Occupying the constitutional right to housing. This law review article acknowledges that while there is no recognized right to housing in the US, social movements that protect housing rights can infuse the law with norms that support its protections.

A Right to Housing (Book)

Dean, H. (2010) Understanding Human Need (Bristol: Policy Press). (BooK

Development and human rights: Litigating the human right to adequate housing. This law review article makes a strong general case for the importance of a right to housing. It is a little dated (2002), but it still has a lot of good evidence in it.

The Right to adequate housing. This report, written by the United Nations, outlines the importance of housing and different actions that can be taken to protect it.

A right to housing should be part of UK law. This article explains why housing should be protected as a right — so that it can be actionable in court.

A right to housing: A tool for promoting and protecting individual health. This article argues that the right to housing that is protected under international law should be incorporated into domestic law.

The human right to housing: Making the Case in US advocacy.  This report argues that housing needs to be protected as a right in order to provide necessary support.

UN expert on the right to housing challenges governments to end homelessness. This brief news article discusses efforts to use a human rights framework to end homelessness.

Housing as a human right: guaranteeing a dignified home. This student paper focuses on the problem of evicting people from public housing when they have engaged in even minor criminal activity. The paper along is not enough to support an affirmative case, but it is a good start for a case idea in this area.

Housing is at the heart of poverty. This newspaper article argues that inadequate housing prevents solutions to poverty and that we need to start exploring ways to expand housing options. It also references are report on how evictions cause poverty. Plans that reduce evictions may be good case ground.

McNaughton Nicholls. C. (2010) Housing, Homelessness and Capabilities, Housing, Theory & Society 27(1), pp.23–41. This article makes a claim that homelessness undermines human development. “In this paper the work of Martha Nussbaum (in which 10 ‘‘essential’’ functions required for human life are identified) is used as a framework for using ‘‘moderate essentialism’’ in the study of housing – or more specifically, to introduce moderate essentialism framed through the capabilities and critical realism, to a theoretical interpretation of what housing represents, as both an enabling and constraining force by which to attain these 10 essential functions. Data from a recent qualitative study of transitions through homelessness conducted in the UK is used to illustrate the resonance that these 10 functions may (or may not) have for individuals to live a ‘‘well lived’’ life. A fit is found; it is clear that housing is closely related, although this is a complex relationship with the capability to attain one function at times being at the expense of another. It is postulated that the intersection of these functions (and their ‘‘essentialist’’ nature) provides an approach for future consideration of the role housing has in enabling a ‘‘well lived’’ life.”

No shelter from the storm – reclaiming the right to housing. Affected communities in New Orleans and their allies have fought back against the assault on their rights and well-being. While the post-Katrina onslaught against poor communities comprises a host of human rights violations, including the right to health, education, environmental protections, and work with dignity, this article focuses on the violations taking place that concern the human right to housing. The article 1) documents some of the violations of the right to housing that have occurred in post-Katrina New Orleans; 2) describes the consequences of these violations, particularly for the health of affected communities; 3) indicates some of the ways that poor communities have organized to struggle against these patterns and reclaim their right to adequate housing, health, and dignity; and 4) situates post-Katrina violations of the right to housing as part of a broader pattern in social policy and the control of urban habitats in the United States. The rights abuses and health consequences suffered by poor black communities in New Orleans and the Gulf region are not isolated phenomena but are instead symptoms of an acute episode in a decades-long “war on the poor” involving the accelerated redistribution of resources and opportunities upward from low- and middle-income people toward the most affluent segments of American society.4 The control of urban space has been a key battleground in this protracted conflict. Efforts by poor black residents to assert their human right to housing reveal the full extent of what is at stake: both the health of vulnerable communities and the quality of American democracy itself.5

The right to adequate housing. This general lesson module probably isn’t the best for cards, but it has a great overview of the issues and provides a simple explanation for them.

Right to adequate housing: Foundation for a new social agenda.  This is a book with many useful chapters —

Editors’ Introduction: Why a Right to Housing Is Needed and Makes Sense
1. The Economic Environment of Housing: Income Inequality and Insecurity – Chris Tilly
2. Housing Affordability: One-Third of a Nation Shelter-Poor – Michael E. Stone
3. Segregation and Discrimination in Housing – Nancy A. Denton
4. Pernicious Problems of Housing Finance – Michael E. Stone
5. Federal Housing Subsidies: Who Benefits and Why? – Peter Dreier
6. The Permanent Housing Crisis: The Failures of Conservatism and the Limitations of Liberalism – Peter Marcuse and W. Dennis Keating
7. Federally-Assisted Housing in Conflict: Privatization or Preservation? – Emily Paradise Achtenberg
BOX: Privatizing Rural Rental Housing – Robert Wiener
8. The Case for a Right to Housing – Chester Hartman
9. The Role of the Courts and a Right to Housing – David B. Bryson
10. Housing Organizing for the Long Haul: Building on Experience – Larry Lamar Yates
11. Social Ownership – Michael E. Stone
12. Social Financing – Michael Swack
13. The Elderly and a Right to Housing – Jon Pynoos and Christy M. Nishita
14. Opening Doors: What a Right to Housing Means for Women – Susan Saegert and Heléne Clark
15. Responses to Homelessness: Past Policies, Future Directions, and a Right to Housing – Rob Rosenthal and Maria Foscarinis
16. Community Development Corporations: Challenges in Supporting a Right to Housing – Rachel G. Bratt
BOX Old and New Challenges Facing Rural Housing Nonprofits – Robert Wiener
17. Between Devolution and the Deep Blue Sea: What’s a City or State to Do? – John Emmeus Davis
18. Housing and Economic Security – Rachel G. Bratt

You can read the first chapter for free here.

Decent housing is not a wish, it is a human right. This is a brief article by former US president Jimmy Carter about the importance of establishing a human right to housing.

The true radicalism of a right to housing. This article argues that while a human right to housing is often posited as too radical, stretching the human rights corpus beyond its appropriate shape, the way in which the right to housing has been interpreted by courts and by those international bodies responsible for developing it appears to hold no such radicalism. Instead, the right emerges as a thin concept, which carries little risk – or promise – within it. Here, I suggest that the right to housing is indeed radical. However, this radicalism does not lie in the fears generally expressed about the right (which can be categorised as political and economic), but in its radical social implications. I sketch this radical potential here in three case studies: women’s social roles; housing, citizenship, and community; and housing and indigenous/minority identity.

Bringing human rights home: The DC right to housing campaign

Gendered perspective on a human right to housing in the United States

Occupying the human right to housing

Housing as a human right

It would be very simple to end homelessness forever

The human right to housing: Making the case in the US

Housing rights and human rights

Advancing a right to housing in the United States: Using international law as a foundation 

The right to adequate housing is a human right (gated)

Tars, E. S. and Egleson, C. (2009) Great Scot! The Scottish Plan to End Homelessness and Lessons for the Housing Rights Movement in the United States, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy 16(1), pp.187–216.

Affirmative — Race

Malcolm X, Gentrification, and Housing as a Human Right

Racial discrimination in housing and homelessness in the United States

Affirmative – Haiti

Haiti’s right to housing

Affirmative – South Africa

The right to housing in South Africa

Affirmative – Chile

A right to low-income housing in Chile

Affirmative — Europe

The duty to ensure adequate housing for all — European Union

Affirmative — Zimbabwe

Massed forced evictions and the human right to housing in Zimbabwe

Affirmative — Rights Based Approaches Good

Turner, B. (1993) Outline of a Theory of Human Rights, Sociology 27(3), pp.489–512.  This article argues that a human rights framework can be used to protect human needs.

Negative — Rights Based Approaches Fail

“The right to housing” for homeless people. This article contends that a rights-based approach to housing/homelessness is bad.  The article is also useful because it offers a strong explanation of rights-based approaches and also offers citations/arguments on both sides.

Bengtsson, B. (2001) Housing as a Social Right: Implications for Welfare State Theory, Scandinavian Political Studies 24(4), pp.255–75 (gated)

Ignatieff, M. (1984) The Needs of Strangers (New York: Picador). This argues that human needs cannot be fulfilled by rights.

McLachlin, H. V. (1998) Justice, Rights and Health Care: A Discussion of the Report of the Commission on Social Justice, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 18(11/12), pp.78–97. (gated) This article argues that everything we need cannot be protected/fulfilled by rights.

Scruton, R. (2006) Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (London: Continuum).  This article argues that we cannot rely on rights to achieve necessary good ends.

Kenna, P. and Uhry, M. (2008) France Violates Council of Europe Right to Housing, Homeless in Europe: The Right to Housing – The Way Forward, autumn, pp.9–11. Argues that the general limitations of rights approaches apply to human rights but that it is possible to perhaps improve human rights enforcement.

King, P. (2003) A Social Philosophy of Housing (Aldershot: Ashgate). In parts of this book, King argues housing rights won’t be enforced by the courts.

Griffiths, J. (1991) The Politics of the Judiciary (London: Fontana). This book includes a general criticism of relying on rights to solve social problems.

Dean, H. (2002) Welfare Rights and Social Policy (Harlow: Pearson Education).  Dean argues it is bad to “juridicize” social welfare policy.

Goodin, R. E. (1986) Welfare, Rights and Discretion, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 6(2), pp.232–61. (gated)  Goodin argues that legal approaches to social welfare policy fail because social service agencies aren’t able to take advantage of legal approaches.

O’Sullivan, E. (2008) Sustainable Solutions to Homelessness: The Irish Case, European Journal of Homelessness 2, pp.205–33 This article contends that legal approaches to solving homelessness are bad because they are adversarial.

De Wispelaere, J. and Walsh, J. (2007) Disability Rights in Ireland: Chronicle of a Missed Opportunity, Irish Political Studies 22(4), pp.517-543.  This article contends that a right-based approach diverts legal resources away from

Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure