In December 2014, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, issued her first thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council. This report serves as a guide for implementing the right to housing at the local level. It reminds States that local governments play an important role in realizing that right to adequate housing, and that sub-national governments at all levels, are under a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil international human rights, including the right to adequate housing for all people.
In most countries, local governments are responsible for policies such as land-use planning, enforcing building standards, and providing emergency shelters. Even when national governments develop programs related to housing issues, it’s usually local officials who make decisions about where housing is built or who receives housing subsidies or benefits under a particular program. For these reasons, local governments have a more immediate and direct impact on the housing rights of local residents compared to national governments.
In this regard, the Rapporteur has issued Implementing the Right to Adequate Housing: A Guide for Local Governments and Civil Society, which is accessible online through the link below. This guide include important issues, such as the definition of what must be considered as “adequate housing”; the central role of decentralization in the effective guarantee of the right to housing at local level; the main challenges local governments have to face in its implementation, and some programmes and policies from all over the world aiming at ensuring the right to housing in an innovative way.