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. Balakrishnan Rajagopal 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.
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Report summary with key recommendations
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. Balakrishnan Rajagopal.
Statement to the International Summit on domestic/family violence during the Covid-19 pandemic, New York 19 November 2020 --
- Op-ed by the Executive Director of UN-Habitat,
Maimunah Mohd Sharif and the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing,
Balakrishnan Rajagopal: “Housing must be at the heart of the COVID-19 response and recovery”, 30 October 2020
- Media Statement: “Ban evictions during COVID-19 pandemic, UN expert urges”, 18 August 2020
- Media Statement: “India: UN expert raises alarm about mass evictions in Delhi” 28 September 2020
- Media Statement: “Brazil must end evictions during COVID-19 crisis: UN expert” 9 July 2020
- Media Statement:
“COVID-19: Urgent help for India’s forgotten migrant workers must follow Supreme Court ruling, say UN experts” 6 April 2020
- Media Statement: "COVID-19 crisis: Kenya urged to stop all evictions and protect housing rights defenders", 22 May 2020
- Media Statement:
“Housing, the front line defense against the COVID-19 outbreak”, 18 March 2020
- Op-ed by SR Balakrishnan Rajagopal "The pandemic shows why we need to treat housing as a right", The Washington Post, 7 May 2020
- Op-ed by SR Leilani Farha “How can billions stay home to beat COVID-19 without a safe place to live”, The Guardian, 29 April 2020
Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing calls for a global ban on evictions
Statements and guidance developed by UN Special Procedures on COVID-19
Consultations and events
- On 30 October 2020 the Special Rapporteur joined an academic panel discussion “Covid-19 and the right to housing: Reimaging housing as a human right during the pandemic and beyond”, Displacement Research & Action Network, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
- 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).
- Additional consultations have been held with States and Civil Society Organizations on 10 and 16 June 2020.