Protecting the right to housing in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

Housing has become the front line defense against the coronavirus. Home has rarely been more of a life or death situation. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, States across the world are asking and, in some cases, legislating that people “stay home”. This is based on the assumption that one’s home provides protection against contracting and spreading the virus. This is not always the case.

Approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide live in homelessness, informal settlements and grossly inadequate housing, often in overcrowded conditions, lacking access to water and sanitation – making them particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus, as they are often suffering from multiple health issues.

Report: COVID-19 on the right to adequate housing: impacts and way forward

The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has called for a global ban on evictions during the pandemic. Mr. Rajagopal Balakrishnan also wrote a comprehensive thematic report (A/75/148) with short, medium and long term recommendations.  The report was developed on the basis of a call for inputs with States, local governments and civil society. Read the report

COVID-19 Guidance Notes for States, local Governments and other actors

The Special Rapporteur developed a set of Guidance Notes to protect the rights of people living in informal settlements, in homelessness, and of renters and mortgage payers. These guidance notes were elaborated in consultation with experts and civil society organizations by his predecessor, Ms. Leilani Farha, and have been endorsed by Mr. Rajagopal Balakrishnan.

  • Prohibition of evictions
    English | French | Spanish    --  Video
  • Protecting Residents in Informal Settlements
    English | French | Spanish    --  Video
  • Protection for those living in Homelessness
    English | French | Spanish    --  Video
  • Protecting renters and mortgage payers
    English | French | Spanish    --  Video
  • Protecting housing from financialization and building back a better future
    English | French | Spanish

Further resources:

Consultations and events

  • The Special Rapporteur will participate in an online event “COVID-19 and WASH solutions in informal settlements” on 23 July 2020 from 15:00-17:00 CEST. For more information and registration ...
  • On 24 June 2020 the Special Rapporteur participated in a webinar on “COVID-19 and the right to adequate housing: local government perspectives” organised in collaboration with the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM). Read more...
  • Additional consultations have been held with States and Civil Society Organizations on 10 and 16 June 2020.