Ghetnet metiku ehrc homelessness & right to adequate housing


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Ghetnet metiku ehrc homelessness & right to adequate housing

  1. 1. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Assessment on Homelessness and the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia (1st Draft) Ghetnet Metiku WoldeGiorgis Socio-Legal Researcher January 2011 Addis AbabaGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 1 of 53
  2. 2. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Table of Contents1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................32. Conceptual Background .........................................................................................................5 2.1. Defining Homelessness ...................................................................................................5 2.1.1. Scope of Existing Definitions ..................................................................................5 2.1.2. Coverage of Existing Definitions ........................................................................... 8 2.1.3. Typologies of Homelessness.................................................................................. 9 2.1.4. Working Definition ................................................................................................ 12 2.2. Causes of Homelessness ............................................................................................... 14 2.3. Homelessness and Human Rights ................................................................................ 143. The Right to Adequate Housing........................................................................................... 18 3.1. The Basis for the Right .................................................................................................. 18 3.1.1. International Standards ........................................................................................ 18 3.1.2. Regional Standards ............................................................................................... 19 3.2. Substance of the Right ................................................................................................. 20 3.2.1. Meaning of ‘adequate’ housing ........................................................................... 20 3.2.2. Holders of the right ............................................................................................... 21 3.2.3. Interrelationship with other rights ....................................................................... 21 3.3. Implementation of the Right ........................................................................................ 22 3.3.1. Obligations of States ............................................................................................. 22 3.3.2. Legal Strategies ..................................................................................................... 23 3.3.3. Non-legal strategies ..............................................................................................24 3.4. Approaches to Homelessness ......................................................................................244. Responses to Homelessness and its Impacts in Ethiopia .................................................. 29 4.1. Ratification of International and Regional Human Rights Instruments .................... 29 4.2. Constitutional Recognition of the Right to Adequate Housing ................................. 29 4.3. Legislative Measures .................................................................................................... 30 4.4. Non-Legislative Measures ............................................................................................. 31 4.5. Assessment .................................................................................................................... 315. Recommendations ...............................................................................................................33 5.1. General Recommendations ..........................................................................................33 5.2. Specific Recommendations ......................................................................................... 346. Annexes ................................................................................................................................ 38 6.1. References .................................................................................................................... 38 6.2. Summary of international and regional standards ..................................................... 38 6.2.1. CESCR General Comment 4 .................................................................................. 38 6.2.2. CESCR General Comment 7 .................................................................................. 44 6.2.3. Indicators on the Right to Adequate Housing .................................................... 50Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 2 of 53
  3. 3. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 20111. IntroductionThe Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is a national human rights institutionestablished in accordance with Article 55(14) of the Constitution of the Federal DemocraticRepublic of Ethiopia (FDRE) through Proclamation No 210/2000. The establishing law givesthe EHRC extensive mandates to promote, protect and work towards the realization ofhuman rights in Ethiopia. More specifically, the duties and responsibilities of the Commissioninclude: – educating the public to be aware of and claim its rights; – seeing to it that the human rights are protected, respected and fully enforced; – investigating complaints of human rights violations; and, – recommending remedial measure where they are found to have been violated.In undertaking its duties and responsibilities the Commission has so far conducted importantactivities and programmes geared towards ensuring its role as the key human rightsinstitution within the country. One among the focal areas being addressed by the EHRC sinceits establishment is the promotion of socio-economic rights, including the right to adequatehousing. Accordingly, the Commission has decided to engage external consultants whowould conduct an assessment of the national policy, legal, institutional framework for theimplementation of the right to housing and responses to the situation of persons living in thestreet. The planned assessment will also seek to establish the roles to be played by the EHRCand other stakeholders in addressing homelessness and its impacts.The assessment aims at enabling the creation of a comprehensive national policy, legal,institutional and programmatic response to the situation of persons and families living in thestreets of urban centers throughout Ethiopia. To this end, the objectives of the currentreport are: – Establishing the international and regional human rights framework for the recognition and realization of the rights of homeless persons, including the right to adequate housing; – Drawing lessons from international and foreign practice in taking legislative, policy, institutional and programmatic measures towards addressing homelessness and the realization of the right to adequate housing; and, – Reviewing and assessing the status, achievements, and gaps in addressing homelessness and the realization of the right to adequate housing in Ethiopia in line with the applicable international human rights standards.Based on the findings parallel to these specific objectives, the assessment will proposespecific actionable recommendations for the EHRC and its partners.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 3 of 53
  4. 4. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011The scope of the assessment could be seen from two distinct perspectives with overlappingsubstance: the right to adequate housing and homelessness. Thus, the major research issuesto be addressed during the assessment are: – international and regional standards defining the substance and implementation of the right to adequate housing and the rights of homeless persons that are relevant to Ethiopia; – international practice in the implementation of the right to adequate housing and addressing homelessness; and, – the implementation of the right to adequate housing and measures to address homelessness in Ethiopia.The results of this assessment are expected to serve as a basis for activities to be conductedby the Commission and its partners during and after the current fiscal year, includinglegislative reform and lobbying, strengthening responses across sectors and designingspecific direct interventions by the Commission. The lessons drawn from the assessment aswell as subsequent activities will also serve as part of a model framework for similar activitiesto be designed in subsequent planning periods.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 4 of 53
  5. 5. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 20112. Conceptual Background 1There is no internationally agreed definition of homelessness. Definitions range from thenarrow—equating homelessness with “rooflessness”—to the broad, based on the adequacyof the dwelling, the risk of becoming homeless, the time exposed to homelessness andresponsibilities for taking alleviating action. 2.1. Defining HomelessnessDefining ‘homelessness’ poses several challenges, especially in the context of developingcountries including the absence of formal or binding definitions, limited data on the numberand situation of the ‘homeless’, ambiguous distinctions with squatting and informalsettlement, and the legal position of streetism.2 In order to count homeless people, theremust first be a working definition of homelessness, which is lacking in most developingcountries. In some cases the status of the most visible among the group may also be subject 3to administrative and criminal sanctions. On the other hand, since Western definitions fail totake into account the specific circumstances of less developed societies, existing theoreticaland legal definitions are not fully relevant. For instance, the inclusion of squatters or informalsettlements in the definition would incorporate most existing households and make itimpossible to focus on the most vulnerable. It is thus necessary to formulate a workingdefinition of homelessness in the context of specific developing countries if it is to informrelevant interventions. Given the lack of a globally agreed definition of homelessness, limiteddata are available about the scale of this phenomenon, which in turn impedes thedevelopment of coherent strategies and policies to prevent and address it. 2.1.1. Scope of Existing DefinitionsIn the past, commentators defined homelessness as featuring a lack of a right or access tosecure and minimally adequate housing, variously described as:“rooflessness (living rough),houselessness (relying on emergency accommodation or long-term institutions), or inadequatehousing (including insecure accommodation, intolerable housing conditions or involuntarysharing)”.4 In Sweden:5 “A homeless person is a person, who has no personal or rented housingor permanent accommodation and who has been directed to temporary alternative housing orspends nights outdoors.” Others distinguish between relative and absolute homelessness.61 OHCHR and UN HABITAT, Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.1, November 2009, p. 222 Dr A. G. Tipple and Suzanne Speak, The Nature and Extent of Homelessness in Developing Countries, Global Urban Research Unit (GURU), University of Newcastle upon Tyne, DFID Project No. R7905, 20033 For example, in India, the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, is used to clear the streets of homeless people when important events are to take place.4 Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 1999, p. 25 Anneli Kährik, Ene-Margit Tiit, Jüri Kõre and Sampo Ruoppila, Access to Housing for Vulnerable Groups in Estonia, PRAXIS Working Paper No 10/2003, August 2003, pp. 40-416 United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Strategies to combat homelessness, Nairobi, 2000, pp. 15-17Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 5 of 53
  6. 6. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011Absolute homelessness occurs when there is neither access to shelter nor the elements ofhome. A person may be in relative homelessness; that is, they may have a shelter but not ahome. The notion of a home, however, is determined also by cultural conditions. Broaderdefinitions incorporate the concept of social exclusion as a major component of the conceptof homelessness suggesting that: “Homelessness is a condition of detachment from society characterized by the absence or attenuation of the affiliative bonds that link settled persons to a network of interconnected social structures”7.There is a wide recognition in Europe that homelessness, as a component of social exclusion,needs to be seen as more than an absence of shelter.8 Homelessness should be seen as arelational rather than an absolute concept.9 In this sense, homelessness has two principalmeanings:10 “… on the one hand lack of space – a shelter – and on the other hand the absenceof social relations or ties which in turn would reveal situations of social exclusion ormarginalization.”The ‘narrow’ definitions of homelessness have evolved through time in response to changesin the conceptual and methodological framework. During the 1960s, the trend was toapproach the issue from the perspective of how ‘the homeless’ behaved especially in termsof their lack of primary relationships. A typical example is found in the following definition of‘homeless households’ latter adopted by the UN for statistical purposes:11 “households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them sleeping in the streets, in door ways or on piers, or in any other space, on a more or less random basis.”In the next decade, emphasis shifted towards a subjective perspective stressing the self-identification of homelessness based on how people felt about their living arrangements. Ifthey consider their situation to be unsatisfactory because of poor conditions, over-crowdingand lack of security, they could consider themselves homeless. The 1990s, on the other hand,saw the dominance of quantifiable definition in the form of scientific statistics that couldinform policy formulation. Homeless people were defined as those who were withoutconventional shelter and in emergency or short-term accommodation, i.e. people to betargeted with policy interventions.7 Caplow and others, 1968, p. 4948 Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 1999, p. 549 Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 1999, p. 310 Tosi, 1997 (Referred to in: Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 1999, pp. 2-311 Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, United Nations publication, Sales No. 07.XVII.8 P), 1998, para 1.328Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 6 of 53
  7. 7. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011These theoretical definitions share one core component, the lack of conventional shelter or‘houselessness’. Legal definitions in some countries have widened the definition to includepeople sleeping in institutions meant for those without any form of shelter. This is the casefor definitions used in the United States of America, India and France (UNCHS, 1999c). Forexample, in the United States of America, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Actof 1987, defined ‘homeless’ to mean: “(1) An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; and, (2) An individual who has a primary night-time residence that is: A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelter, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations for human beings. (3) This term does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained under an Act of Congress or a state law. People who are at imminent risk of losing their housing, because they are being evicted from private dwelling units or are being discharged from institutions and have nowhere else to go, are usually considered to be homeless for program eligibility purposes” .The Census of India uses the notion of ‘houseless population’, defined as the persons whoare not living in ‘census houses’, meaning ‘a structure with roof’. In short, the narrowdefinition of homelessness equates two groups: those who would be sleeping rough or in apublic shelter. Their situation, which corresponds to a narrow or literal definition ofhomelessness, also implies the absence of community and family ties, privacy, security, andthe lack of shelter against the elements.Wider definitions of homelessness go beyond the narrow definition of ‘rooflessness’,embracing only those sleeping rough, to one including risk and causality.12 According to onesuch definition: “Homelessness is the absence of a personal, permanent, adequate dwelling. Homeless people are those who are unable to access a personal, permanent, adequate dwelling or to maintain such a dwelling due to financial constraints and other social barriers…”13.More wide-ranging interpretations of homelessness include those living in ‘intolerablehousing conditions’14 which would include overcrowded, insecure or substandard12 Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 199913 United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Strategies to combat homelessness, Nairobi, 2000, pp. 18-19 (Avramov, 1996, p. 71, cited in FEANTSA, 1999, p. 10)14 Watchman and Robson, “Homelessness and the law in Britain”, mimeo, Glasgow, Planning Exchange, 1989Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 7 of 53
  8. 8. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011accommodation, those forced into involuntary sharing, or those subjected to high levels ofnoise pollution or infestation. Some definitions developed from a Western Europeanperspective go even further, including those without permanent or adequate dwellings.15A theoretical definition of homelessness could be said to be an essential condition ofrecognition of and policy towards homelessness with regard to both quantity and quality.However, the meaning of homeless is fluid and elusive, changing over time and betweenplaces. Wide ranges of official and non-official conceptualizations of homelessness are usedaround the world, usually related to national legislation and policy legacies.The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has noted that narrow definitions areinadequate and that in developing countries the most common definitions recognize that anelement of social exclusion is part of the experience of the homeless. UN-Habitat underlinesin this respect that homelessness implies belonging nowhere rather than simply havingnowhere to sleep. 2.1.2. Coverage of Existing DefinitionsDefinitions of ‘homelessness’ also differ in terms of their coverage or the dwellingcircumstances that may be classified as homelessness. The following are the differentcircumstances which have been classified as homelessness.16 Table 1: Categories of the HomelessRough sleepers People actually living on the street carrying their few possessions with them; often lacking legal identity for lack of official documentationPavement dwellers Two main categories may be identified: those who have chosen the street as their place of abode for economic or other reasons;17 and those who are reluctant but have nowhere else to liveOccupants of shelters This category includes those who report to shelters for homeless persons with or without extra-accommodation services on a regular basisOccupants of Inmates of prisons and long stay hospitals who are about to be released18institutionsOccupants of Households, typically in developing countries, occupy housing lackingunserviced housing access to safe water and adequate sanitation 19Occupants of poorly In many high-income industrial countries, poor construction of the home isconstructed or insecure regarded as a reason for declaring the occupants homeless20 (vulnerable15 Avramov, D., Homelessness in the European Union, Brussels, FEANTSA, 199516 United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Strategies to combat homelessness, Nairobi, 2000, pp. 19-2517 They may choose to live here rather than more peripheral (affordable) housing because their living is made close to the centre of the cities.18 In some cases, refugees and asylum seekers are housed in institutions, as they have no local home.19 According to UNICEF (1999) data, some 13% of the urban population in developing countries lack access to safe water and some 25 access to adequate sanitation facilities, i.e. there were some 253 million urban residents who do not have access to safe drinking water and 486 million who do not have adequate sanitation.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 8 of 53
  9. 9. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011housing sites, precarious tenancy)Sharers In European literature, this includes people who would be described as ‘doubling-up’; they are sleeping on a friend’s floor or are staying with parents when they really want to ‘leave the nest.’Occupants of housing Households who can no longer afford what was a manageable housing costof unsuitable cost due to emergent causes such as loss of income, death of income earner, and increasing rents.Occupants of mobile In some high-income industrial countries,21 long term occupation of mobilehomes homes, caravans, barges, and motor vehicles is regarded as inadequate (especially if not by choice or where restrictions apply to location or travel).The first two categories, i.e. rough sleepers and pavement dwellers, are covered in thenarrowest of definitions of homelessness while the third (occupants of shelters) are thesame persons identified from the perspective of accessing service. Inclusion of the othercategories varies depending on the specific context and purpose of the definition. Generallyspeaking, definitions used in developing countries are limited in their coverage to the firsttwo while broader coverage is observed in the context of developed countries. Within thesame context, statutory definitions giving rise to entitlements use narrower definitions thanpolicy documents or definitions used by non-government actors. Other categorizationsprofiling the homeless according to specific factors such as age, gender or health status arealso common. A case in point is the treatment of street children,22 women and the mentally illas a separate category of homeless persons. 2.1.3. Typologies of HomelessnessOne approach is to provide for a general definition of homelessness and identifying morespecific categories or levels of homelessness. For instance, Australian federal law defineshomelessness as ‘inadequate access to safe and secure housing’.23 This exists where the onlyhousing to which a person has access: is likely to damage the person’s health; threatens theperson’s safety; marginalises the person by failing to provide access to adequate personalamenities or the normal economic and social support of a home; or, places the person incircumstances that threaten or adversely affect the adequacy, safety, security andaffordability of that housing.24 Within this general legal definition, the Australian Bureau ofStatistics (ABS) has identified several categories of homelessness in Australian society in20 In developing countries, so many households endure poorly constructed dwellings falling short of building regulations that they are unlikely all to be regarded as homeless. According to UNCHS (1999a), more than a quarter of housing in developing countries (and 40% in Sub- Saharan Africa) is built in nonpermanent materials, while more than one third of housing in developing countries (and more than half in Sub-Saharan Africa) does not comply with local regulations.21 The rarity of mobile homes in developing countries is probably sufficient to reduce the numbers there in this category to virtually zero.22 Many children in the streets go home at night; others have no home in which they are welcome and live a life dissociated from adult supervision and care. The reference may be to both or the latter depending on context and purpose.23 Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994 (Cth), s 4(1).24 Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994 (Cth), s 4(2)Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 9 of 53
  10. 10. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011relation to minimum community standards regarding housing and highlighting thathomelessness affects people in different ways, depending on their personal situation andneeds. These are: Primary homelessness: For some people, being homeless means being ‘roofless’ – living on the streets, in parks or in deserted buildings. This is known as primary homelessness and is the most visible kind of homelessness.25 Secondary or tertiary homelessness: For other people, being homeless means moving between various types of temporary shelters, such as the homes of friends and relatives, refuges and hostels; or living in boarding houses on a long-term basis, 26 with shared amenities and without security of tenure. The ABS categorises this as secondary or tertiary homelessness. People who are ‘marginally housed’: These people are living close to the minimum community standard of housing, such as a family staying with relatives on a long- term basis or a couple renting a caravan without security of tenure.27 While not strictly within the current definition of people who are homeless, there is debate as to whether their experience of inadequate housing means they should be included in the group of homeless persons.28Typologies of homelessness developed in recent decades range from ‘the homelesscontinuum’29 to classifications based on quality, risk or potential, time and responsibilities for 30taking alleviating action. There are a large number of typologies of homelessness that arebased on key elements of housing ‘adequacy’.31 However, most quality orientedcategorizations come up with a three or four category system distinguishing between levelsof homelessness in terms of severity of living conditions. The following typology isrepresentative of quality-based categorizations: Table 2: Quality-Based Categories of HomelessnessDegree of homelessness Characteristics25 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Counting the Homeless 2001, 2003, p12, available at$ File/20500_2001.pdf26 ABS, Counting the Homeless 2001, 2003, p. 1227 ABS, Counting the Homeless 2001, 2003, pp. 12-1328 ABS, Counting the Homeless 2001, 2003, p. 1329 These are a group of typologies describing states between satisfactory and secure forms of housing on one end and sleeping rough at the other.30 United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Strategies to combat homelessness, Nairobi, 2000, pp. 26-3131 For instance, based on a study of homelessness in Europe, FEANTSA proposes a quality- oriented definition of homelessness beginning with a four-fold sub-division of housing adequacy defined by high/low quality and high/low security, all except the high quality and high security subdivision falling within the definition of homelessness.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 10 of 53
  11. 11. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011Absolute homelessness People without an acceptable roof over their heads, living on the streets, under bridges and deserted buildingsFirst degree relative People moving between various forms of temporary or medium termhomelessness shelter such as refuges, boarding houses, hostels or friendsSecond degree relative People constrained to live permanently in single rooms in privatehomelessness boarding housesThird degree relative Housed but without conditions of ‘home’, e.g., security, safety, orhomelessness32 inadequate standards Source: UN HABITAT, 200033Typologies based on potential or risk of homelessness generally incorporate the homeless aswell as those about to become homeless mainly with a view to informing preventive as wellas curative intervention. In Austria, the definition of homelessness (referred to as‘houselessness’) distinguishes among three groups of homeless people: acute, imminent orpotential.34 The first category includes people living on the street, squatting in public spacesnot designed for residence, staying with friends or relatives because of inadequate housingof their own, and living in housing that is an acute health hazard.35 ‘Imminent houselessness’concerns those who are threatened with the loss of their current abode, who are incapableof keeping it, or who cannot provide a replacement for themselves. Finally, ‘potentialhouselessness’ includes those where the housing loss is not imminent but may beapproaching because of inadequate housing or income. More elaborate typologies based onpotential or risk informed by studies in developed countries similarly incorporate people whoare, or are potentially, homeless. One such study based on work in the UK, the US andCanada, have suggested a different five point classification based on the risks faced by 36people who are already homeless and the type of assistance they would need. Wherecategories of potentially or actually homeless people are neither counted nor considered,they are sometimes called the hidden homeless.Other important typologies of the homeless include those based on time and responsibilityfor intervention. Time-based typologies, which are mostly employed by those interested inand drawing data from the provision of services to the homeless, group the homeless basedon how long they have been homeless. One such typology distinguishes betweentransitionally homeless, episodically homeless, and chronically homeless.37 Another time-based typology also incorporates the reactions of the ‘already homeless’ to their situation.3832 Also referred to as inadequate housing or incipient homelessness33 UN HABITAT, Selected Strategies to Combat Homelessness, 2000 (Quoting Cooper, 1995)34 These categories are similar to those used in a Canadian study: literally homeless; moving in and out of homelessness; and marginally housed and at risk of homelessness (Peressini and others, 1995).35 BAWO, 1999; cited in UNCHS 1999c36 UN HABITAT, 2000: Quoting Daly, 199637 Kuhn, R. and Culhane, D.P., Applying cluster analysis to test a typology of homelessness by pattern of shelter utilisation, American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1998, pp. 207-3238 Hertzberg, E. L., The homeless in the United States: conditions, typology and interventions, International Social Work, Vol. 35, 1992, pp. 149-61Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 11 of 53
  12. 12. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011The purpose of these typologies is to identify and target each category with the mostrelevant interventions customized to their needs. Finally, some definitions focus onentitlement to or the responsibility for assistance. These typologies, which are often definedby law, tend to define homelessness at three levels: general principle, exclusions and prioritygroups. For instance, the statutory definition of homelessness in the UK states that:39 aperson or household is homeless if they have no accommodation in England, Wales orScotland, or have no accommodation that they are legally entitled to occupy; excludes thosewho have become homeless ‘intentionally’, or lacking local connection, or falling outside anyof the priority-need groups40. 2.1.4. Working DefinitionThe definition of ‘homelessness’ in the context of Ethiopia has to be narrow in scope, limitedin its coverage, and use a typology based on risk or potential as described in the precedingsections. The nature of the contextual definition draws from the need to identify and addressthe situation of those most affected by homelessness and most vulnerable to its impacts.Recognizing that the ‘homeless’ are a diverse group with a range of shared and specificneeds, interventions targeting them need to be diverse in their objectives, strategies andactors. It is thus necessary that one identifies a narrower group with more shared thandiverse needs to design and implement a relevant and effective intervention. Theprioritization of these categories of ‘homeless’ is not only more pragmatic in terms ofefficiency in utilizing limited available resources, but also in line with good practice inaddressing gaps and violations in the realization of human rights.The theoretical definitions described above distinguish between three conceptions withprogressively broadening scope.41 It would thus be appropriate to examine each in definingthe conception appropriate for our working definition. 1) The narrowest conception, referred to as ‘rooflessness’ designates the absence of any form of shelter as understood in the socio-economic context. A roofless person or household lives on the street, either sleeping rough or in makeshift structures. In the Ethiopian context, the reference would be to individuals and households living and sleeping in the open, in structures such as bus stations and doorsteps of shops, or in enclosures made from flimsy materials such as plastic sheeting on fences and other structures. These are the ‘homeless’ in the strictest sense of the term since they are affected directly by the most severe effects of homelessness and should be the core reference group in our working definition.39 Neale, J., ”Homelessness and theory reconsidered”, Housing Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1997, pp. 47-6140 Groups defined as being in ‘priority need’ are: households containing dependent children or a pregnant woman; people who are vulnerable in some way (due to age or physical or mental disability, etc.); or, people made homeless by an emergency such as a fire or flood41 Edgar, B., Doherty, J., and Mina-Coull A., Services for homeless people, Innovation and change in the European Union, The Policy Press, JCSHR, FEANTSA, 1999, p. 2Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 12 of 53
  13. 13. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 2) The second level is ‘houselessness’ referring to situations where the individual or household in question does have a roof over its head but does not have a ‘home’ as understood in the local context. It may, for instance, be the case that one is living in an emergency accommodations or a homeless shelter. In the Ethiopian context, a person living in a charitable shelter, rooms within church grounds, or displacement camp would be a typical example. This group of individuals or households may be considered homeless people whose immediate needs have been addressed at least on a temporary basis. While our definition of homelessness should take into account the transitory nature of their status, our concern with this group should be peripheral since they are not being directly and immediately affected by homelessness. 3) The broadest level of conceptualization refers to ‘inadequate housing’ that does not satisfy the minimum conditions required to qualify as a ‘home’. Though the adequacy of housing is understood mainly in terms of quality and security issues, this conception is generally premised on standards defined by law presumably in line with the substantive content of the right to adequate housing. In the Ethiopian context, this category would include a significant percentage of the urban population living in dilapidated housing and informal settlements. The inclusion of these groups in our definition of homelessness would detract from the concerns of our intended focal group since the issues involved are distinctly different for the two groups. It may, however, be appropriate to take into account the potential role of insecure or low quality housing as a cause for the narrower conceptions of homelessness in designing preventive interventions.In relation to typology, our conception of ‘homelessness’ requires that we use a simplercategorization that distinguishes between our focal group and the peripheral groups we areinterested in. These are: People living in the street (i.e. rough sleepers and pavement dwellers); People living in makeshift shelters which do not qualify as a dwelling; People living in temporary accommodation; and, People living in low quality or insecure housing.The first two categories could be considered ‘street dwellers’ and form the focal group forinterventions on account of facing the most serious conditions pertaining to or arising fromhomelessness. Furthermore, one may consider distinctions within these focal categories toidentify those most vulnerable to the negative effects of homelessness such as youngchildren, girls, mothers with infants, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.In conclusion, the definition of ‘homelessness’ in the context of Ethiopia has to be narrow inscope focusing on ‘rooflessness’, limited in its coverage to people living in the street in urbancenters, and use a typology identifying focal and peripheral groups based on current andpotential vulnerability to the impacts of homelessness.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 13 of 53
  14. 14. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 2.2. Causes of HomelessnessTheoretically, the causes of homelessness could be analyzed from economic, social and/or 42political perspectives with corresponding solutions. From an economic point of viewhomelessness arises from failure of economic systems in producing and allocating housingresources, a problem calling for changes in economic policy. A social analysis, on the otherhand, attributes the problem to malfunctioning social relations at the household level andsuggests interventions such as family support, child protection, family mediation and theprevention of domestic violence. Finally, political analysis would point to unresponsivenessof political institutions to vulnerable social sections leading to failure to achieve equitabledistribution of housing that could only be solved by influencing the political process,including economic and social decision-making.In practice, the causes are more complex involving economic, social and political factorsmanifested differently in different contexts as well as across and within social groups. Thetwo fundamental causes of homelessness in developing countries are poverty, especiallyrural poverty, and the failure of the housing supply system. In many developing countriesrural poverty has driven large numbers of people, usually young single men, to seekemployment and economic opportunities in cities. Once in the cities they are employed inlow paying jobs in the absence of affordable accommodation. Since these rural migrants areexpected to send money back to the family, they often prefer living on the street rather thanspend money on expensive urban accommodation. However, poverty and housing shortagesalone do not necessarily lead to homelessness. Other factors such as natural disasters, rapidurbanization and eviction are important causes of homelessness in many countries.There are also strong social causes for homelessness in developing countries mainly affectingwomen and children. These social causes of homelessness include: marital breakdown orbereavement; domestic violence; deterioration of traditional extended families; and, HTPssuch as early marriage. Despite legislation protecting women’s rights, cultural attitudes indeveloping countries often sustain social rules undermining the marital, property and otherrights of women. This forces many women onto the streets, and sometimes into prostitution.Homeless women and children are also often victims of family breakdown or are escapingfamily violence. 2.3. Homelessness and Human RightsInternational human rights law recognises that every person has the right to an adequatestandard of living. This right includes the right to adequate housing.43 The right to housing ismore than simply a right to shelter. It is a right to have somewhere to live that is adequate.Whether housing is adequate depends on a range of factors including: legal security oftenure; availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure; affordability;42 United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Strategies to Combat Homelessness, Nairobi, 2000 ( ICESCR, article 11; CRC, article 27; CERD, article 5(e); CEDAW, article 14(2); UDHR, article 25Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 14 of 53
  15. 15. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 44accessibility; habitability; location; cultural adequacy. Homelessness involves the absenceof housing, adequate or otherwise. It thus represents the most obvious and severemanifestation of failure to realize the human right to adequate housing. (UNCHS, 1999d:paragraph 30)Homelessness also impacts on the exercise of a wide range of basic human rights by thehomeless. Some of these rights and the impacts of homelessness on their exercise are brieflydescribed below. The Right to Health: Every person has the right to enjoy the highest possible standard of health.45 However, homelessness may result in serious and persistent violations of this fundamental human right in three ways.46 First, poor physical or mental health can reduce a person’s ability to find employment or earn an adequate income thereby increasing vulnerability to homelessness.47 Second, homelessness increases vulnerability to health problems including depression, poor nutrition, substance abuse and mental health problems leading to significantly higher rates of death, disability and chronic illness among homeless persons.48 Third, homelessness exacerbates and complicates the treatment of many health problems since homeless people have significantly less access to health services.49 Right to Physical Safety: Every person has the right to liberty and security of the person.50 The physical safety of a person who is homeless is often under constant threat. Lacking a safe living environment, homeless people are more vulnerable to crime and personal attacks. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to attacks on their personal safety and human rights law recognizes their right to special protection from sexual and other abuse.51 Women who are homeless are also at greater risk of violence and sexual abuse and are often forced into harmful situations and relationships out of need. It is vital that people experiencing homelessness are provided with adequate support to protect them from violations of their right to personal safety.44 ICESCR, General Comment 4: The right to adequate housing, [8].45 ICESCR article 12; CRC article 24; CEDAW articles 12, 14(2).46 US Institute of Medicine, Homelessness, Health and Human Needs, 1988, National Academy of Press, Washington, p39.47 Parliament of Australia Senate, Community Affairs References Committee, A Hand Up Not a Hand Out: Renewing the Fight Against Poverty, 2004, p173.48 E. Harris, P. Sainsbury and D. Nutbeam (eds), Perspectives on Health Inequity. Australian Centre for Health Promotion, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1999; A. Lucy, ‘South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service Homelessness Health Strategic Plan 2004-09’ in Parity, vol 17, no 8, 2004, pp6, 7.49 E. Harris, P. Sainsbury and D. Nutbeam (eds), Perspectives on Health Inequity, Australian Centre for Health Promotion, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1999.50 ICCPR, article 9(1)51 CRC, article 34Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 15 of 53
  16. 16. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Right to Privacy: Everyone has the right to protection against arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy.52 Homelessness tends to undermine enjoyment of this right. Some people experiencing homelessness may be forced to carry out their personal activities in public, activities that most people are able to do in the privacy of their own homes. Even where support is available, people living in homeless shelters or boarding houses may be required to share facilities with others, which may also threaten their right to privacy. Right to Education: Education is a basic human right and the Government must take steps to ensure that primary education and vocational education is accessible by every child.53 For homeless people, lack of legal identity, financial difficulty and insecure housing conditions make it hard to access education and training facilities. For homeless children and young people who manage to be in school, it is often an experience of marginalization. In fact, school leaving has been shown to be a key risk indicator of homelessness.54 Right to work: The right to work includes the right of every person to have the opportunity to gain a living by work that they have freely chosen or accepted.55 Homeless people face many barriers to gaining and maintaining employment. Many homeless people lack basic education and skills training, due to disrupted or incomplete schooling. They may also lack community and family connections that can assist in finding employment and providing advice on work-related issues. Lack of knowledge about employment rights and lack of bargaining power make homeless people particularly vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination at work. Right to non-discrimination: The right to be treated equally by the law and to be free from discrimination is a fundamental human right.56 A number of countries have recognized ‘homelessness’ as a ‘social status’, ‘housing status’ or ‘employment status’ within the prohibition on discrimination.57 People experiencing homelessness face persistent stigmatization and discrimination in a range of different contexts. Some of the situations in which discrimination arises have already been discussed, including access to health care, access to education and employment. Discrimination against homeless people also occurs in situations where certain laws operate in a manner that disadvantages homeless people, compared to other people in society. Such laws include rules governing eligibility for social security and voting and laws that criminalize the doing of certain activities in public space.52 ICCPR, article 17, CRC, article 16.53 ICESCR, article 13; CRC, article 28; CEDAW, articles 11, 14(2); CERD, article 5(e)54 P. Lynch, ‘Human Rights and the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP)’ in Parity, vol 17, no 1, 2004, p 2355 ICCPR, article 6; CERD, article 5(e)56 ICCPR article 26; CERD article 5(d); CEDAW, article 257 See for example, Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic, Promoting Equality: Homeless Persons and Discrimination, Submission regarding Discrimination on the Ground of Social Status and the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic), 2002, pp21-31Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 16 of 53
  17. 17. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Right to social security: The human right to social security imposes an obligation on the government to provide welfare necessary for subsistence to people who are unable to support themselves.58 At the outset, in order to establish entitlement to benefits, a person must satisfy strict proof of identity requirements, which disproportionately burdens homeless people who often do not have, and cannot afford to obtain official documentation that proves their identity. 59Other important rights the homeless are unable to exercise include the right to vote, theright to freedom of expression,60 and the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degradingtreatment or punishment.6158 ICESCR, article 9; CRC, article 26; CEDAW, articles 10, 14(2); CERD, article 5(e)59 ICCPR, article 25; CEDAW, article 7; CERD, article 5(d)60 ICCPR, article 19(2); CERD, article 5(d)61 ICCPR, article 7; CRC, article 37Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 17 of 53
  18. 18. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 20113. The Right to Adequate HousingThis section provides information on the recognition of the right to adequate housing ininternational and regional human rights instruments, the substance and components of theright to adequate housing as well as measures of implementation to be taken at the nationallevel. It is meant to provide a framework for the presentation and analysis of the nationalpolicy, legislative and programmatic measures towards the realization of the right inEthiopia. 3.1. The Basis for the Right 3.1.1. International StandardsThe right to adequate housing is founded and recognized under international law.Enunciated under article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right toadequate housing has been codified in other major international human rights treaties. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1))Article 11(1) of the ICESCR provides that "States Parties to the present Covenant recognizethe right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, includingadequate . . . housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions." Moreover,the CESCR has issued two General Comments, General Comments 4 and 7, clarifying thescope and meaning of the right to housing as enshrined in the Covenant.Similar provisions on the right to adequate housing are contained in the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination ofDiscrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the InternationalConvention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and the Interna-tional Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.Several non-binding declarations, resolutions and recommendations by the UN and itsspecialized agencies related to housing as a human right. These include: Declaration on Social Progress and Development (1969), part II, art. 10 Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975), art. 9Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 18 of 53
  19. 19. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (1976), section III (8) International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation No. 115 (1961), principle 2 ILO Recommendation No. 62 Concerning Older Workers (1980), art. 5(g) Declaration on the Right to Development (1986), art. 8(1) United Nations Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities resolution 1994/8 on "Children and the Right to Adequate Housing" adopted 23 August 23 1994 United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/77 on "Forced Evictions," adopted on 10 March 1993 United Nations Commission on Human Settlements resolution 14/6 on "The Human Right to Adequate Housing," adopted 5 May 1993 United Nations General Assembly resolution 42/146 on the "Realization of the Right to Adequate Housing," adopted 7 December 1987, which "reiterates the need to take, at the national and international levels, measures to promote the right of all persons to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate housing, and calls upon all States and international organizations concerned to pay special attention to the realization of the right to adequate housing in carrying out measures to develop national shelter strategies and settlement improvement programmes within the framework of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000." 3.1.2. Regional StandardsSeveral regional human rights instruments also guarantee to every individual the right toadequate housing. Under the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), article31(k), "Member States agree to dedicate every effort to achieve . . . adequate housing for allsectors of the population." The European Social Charter, the European Convention onHuman Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Convention on the Legal Status ofMigrant Workers, the Resolution on Shelter for the Homeless in the European Community,and the Final Act of Helsinki all contain express provisions and references to the right toadequate housing.The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights makes no specific mention of the right toadequate housing. However, other provisions such as the right to life (art. 4) and the right tophysical and mental health (art. 16) arguably provide a basis for the assertion of the right tohousing. However, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on theRights of Women in Africa (2000) (article 16) explicitly describes women’s right to equalaccess to housing and acceptable living conditions.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 19 of 53
  20. 20. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 3.2. Substance of the RightThe substance of the right to adequate housing is drawn from Article 11 (1) of the ICESCR.Moreover, the CESCR in its sixth session, in 1991, has adopted a detailed General Comment onarticle 11(1) of the Covenant dealing with the right to adequate housing.62 The followingsections are developed on the basis of this Comment (the full text has been annexed). 3.2.1. Meaning of ‘adequate’ housingThe key term in the understanding of the right to housing in the meaning of article 11(1) isadequacy (paragraph 7). While acknowledging that social, economic, cultural, climatic,ecological and other factors, in part, determine adequacy, the CESCR identified the essentialcomponents of adequacy (paragraph 8). These are: Legal security of tenure. Security of tenure means that all people in any living arrangement possess a degree of security against forced eviction, harassment, or other threats. States are obliged to confer this security legally. Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure. To ensure the health, security, comfort, and nutrition of its occupants, an adequate house should have sustainable access to natural and common resources, safe drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, site drainage and emergency services. Affordability. Affordable housing is housing for which the associated financial costs are at a level that does not threaten other basic needs. States should take steps to ensure that housing costs are proportionate to overall income levels, establish subsidies for those unable to acquire affordable housing, and protect tenants against unreasonable rent levels or increases. In societies where housing is built chiefly out of natural materials, states should help ensure the availability of those materials. Habitability. Habitable housing provides the occupants with adequate space, physical security, shelter from weather, and protection from threats to health like structural hazards and disease. Accessibility. Adequate housing must be accessible to those entitled to it. This includes all disadvantaged groups of society, who may have special housing needs that require extra consideration. Location. The location of adequate housing, whether urban or rural, must permit access to employment opportunities, health care, schools, child care and other social facilities. To protect the right to health of the occupants, housing must also be separated from polluted sites or pollution sources.62 CESCR, General Comment 4, The right to adequate housing (Art. 11, para. 1 of the Covenant) (Sixth session, 1991), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, UN Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 at 53 (1994).Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 20 of 53
  21. 21. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 Cultural adequacy. The way housing is built, the materials used, and the policies supporting these must facilitate cultural expression and housing diversity. The development and modernization of housing in general should maintain the cultural dimensions of housing while still ensuring modern technological facilities, among other things (paragraph 8).This is also highlighted by other sources such as the Commission on Human SettlementsGlobal Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 (1998) which provides a definition of adequacyreferring to "... adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting andventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basicfacilities - all at a reasonable cost." 3.2.2. Holders of the rightThe CESCR has stated categorically that the right to adequate housing applies to everyone byclarifying that the term "himself and his family" in the wording of the provision does notimpose "any limitations upon the applicability of the right to individuals or to female headedhouseholds or other such groups. Thus, not only is the concept of ‘family’ to be understoodin a wide sense, individuals, as well as families, are entitled to adequate housing regardless ofage, economic status, group or other affiliation or status and other such factors. The issue ofnon-discrimination has especially been given attention by the Committee (paragraph 6). Onthe other hand, the Committee has stressed the need to give priority to social groups living inunfavorable conditions, and noted that policies and laws should not benefit alreadyadvantaged social groups at the expense of others. 3.2.3. Interrelationship with other rightsThe CESCR in its General Comment has noted that the right to adequate housing is to bedefined as constituting “the right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference withone’s privacy, family, home or correspondence " and cannot be realized without "the fullenjoyment of other rights” (paragraph 9). The ‘other rights’ referred to in the CESCRsGeneral Comment 4 are rights without the enjoyment of which the fulfillment of the right tohousing is threatened or impossible. They include: the principle of non-discrimination;freedom of expression; freedom of association; freedom of residence (and the right tofreedom of movement); the right to participate in public decision-making; and, the right tosecurity of person (in the case of forced or arbitrary evictions or other forms of harassment).In addition, the right to housing provides a foundation that increases the likelihood of theachievement of other human rights. These include: the right to family; the right to participatein government; the right to work; the right to rest and leisure; the right to food and water;the right to the highest attainable level of physical and mental health; the right to education;and, the right to participate in the cultural life of the community.Recent developments in the body of international human rights law reaffirm that the right toadequate housing is guaranteed to traditionally disenfranchised members of society, includ-ing women, internally displaced persons, and refugees. In August 1998, the Sub-CommissionGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 21 of 53
  22. 22. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities urged governments, in viewof the fact that "women’s experiences of poverty are particularly severe and prohibit womenfrom escaping the poverty trap," to "review their laws, policies, customs and traditionspertaining to land, property and housing rights, [and] to amend and repeal laws and policies . . .which deny women security of tenure and equal access and rights to land, property andhousing."63 The sub-commission has also recognized the right of refugees and internallydisplaced persons to the free and fair exercise of their "right to return to [their] home andplace of habitual place of residence," while stating that "the right to adequate housing includesthe right of protection for returning refugees and internally displaced persons against beingcompelled to return to their homes and places of habitual residence."64 3.3. Implementation of the RightWhen a State ratifies any binding international agreement it takes on obligations underinternational law to implement it. Generally, the basic obligations of States Parties to aninternational instrument relate to three mutually supporting obligations: obligation torespect, obligation to protect and obligation to fulfill. However, most agreementscomplement this international law framework on the obligations of states by incorporatingspecific provisions on measures of implementation. 3.3.1. Obligations of StatesState obligations vis-à-vis the right to adequate housing are frequently misunderstood. Theydo not mean that the state is required to build housing for the entire population, or thathousing should be provided free of charge to the populace, or even that this right will mani-fest itself in the same manner in all places at all times. Rather, recognition of the right tohousing by a state means the State: undertakes to endeavor by all appropriate means to ensure that everyone has access to affordable and acceptable housing; will take a series of measures which indicate policy and legislative recognition of each of the constituent aspects of the right to housing; and, will protect and improve houses and neighborhoods rather than damage or destroy them.The essential elements of the state’s obligation to implement all ESC rights (including theright to adequate housing) are encapsulated under article 2(1) of the ICESCR.It stated that, regardless of their level of development, states must take certain steps im-mediately to guarantee the right. One such step is monitoring to ascertain the full extent ofhomelessness and inadequate housing within its jurisdiction (paragraph 10). Moreover, theCESCR has, while acknowledging that economic crises arising from external factors may have63 SC Res. 1998/15, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/RES/1998/15 (21 Aug. 1998)64 SC Res. 1998/26, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/RES/1998/26 (26 Aug. 1998)Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 22 of 53
  23. 23. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011a bearing on the right, has stressed that "the obligations under the Covenant continue toapply and are perhaps even more pertinent during times of economic contraction" (GeneralComment 4, paragraph 11). It would be inconsistent with obligations under the Covenant ifliving and housing conditions decline because of policy and legislative decisions taken bystates parties. It also identified the adoption of a national housing strategy as an importantstep.In addition, article 2(2) of the Covenant prohibits discrimination of any kind as to race, color,sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth orother status, in the exercise of the rights enunciated in the Covenant. This provision can andshould be used as the basis for addressing several institutional, legal and cultural barriers toaccess of women to land and housing.A substantial proportion of international assistance should be devoted to creating conditionsleading to a higher number of persons being adequately housed. The CESCR also stressedthat "international financial institutions promoting measures of structural adjustment shouldensure that such measures do not compromise the enjoyment of the right to adequatehousing" (paragraph 19). 3.3.2. Legal StrategiesHousing rights are determinate and justiciable. Direct arguments in support of the right toadequate housing can be founded on legally binding provisions contained in international,regional or national laws. The CESCR has stated that many elements of the right to adequatehousing are consistent with domestic legal remedies. It has identified the following areas inwhich the domestic legal system could play a role in safeguarding the right to housing: (a) Legal appeals aimed at preventing planned evictions or demolitions through the issuance of court ordered injunctions; (b) Legal procedures seeking compensation following an illegal eviction; (c) Complaints against illegal actions carried out or supported by landlords (whether public or private) in relation to rent levels dwelling maintenance, and racial or other forms of discrimination; (d) Allegations of any form of discrimination in the allocation and availability of ac- cess to housing; and (e) Complaints against landlords concerning unhealthy or inadequate housing conditions. In some legal systems it would also be appropriate to explore the possibility of facilitating class action suits in situations involving significantly increased levels of homelessness.In addition to seeking enforcement of rights by using standards directly related to the rightto housing, cases can be filed using derivative claims. For example, the right to adequatehousing may be implied from express guarantees of other rights (e.g., the right to life, pri-Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 23 of 53
  24. 24. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011vacy of the home, right to family life) that are generally recognized as basic civil and politicalrights. 3.3.3. Non-legal strategiesLegal strategies should be combined with other strategies to ensure the full realization of theright to housing. Effective guarantees of housing rights require consultation, dialogue, nego-tiation and compromise rather than coercion, force, repression and exclusion. Support-based strategies that recognize the role of the informal sector in the creation of housingmust be developed and implemented. In the final analysis, the full realization of the right toadequate housing would depend on the extent of awareness and action taken for ensuringits enjoyment. Other key strategies for action on the right to adequate housing mayinclude: research; education; monitoring; mobilization; participation (neighborhoodnetworks); negotiation; constituency building; intersectoral collaboration; development ofmodel national housing plans; and budget analysis. 3.4. Approaches to HomelessnessAlthough most states do not stipulate a clear right to housing, they do have legislation andnational programs related to housing. In fact, UN-Habitat reports that 75% of the world’scountries have constitutions or national laws that promote the full and progressiverealization of the right to adequate housing. Legal protections of the right to housing at thenational level often involve arbitrary eviction, safety and health regulations, or equalprotection and non-discrimination issues.In many countries housing policy is oriented around securing the affordability of housing,which is an issue for both potential homeowners and renters. According to UN-Habitat’sState of the World’s Cities (2001), households in cities of developing countries need anaverage of 12.5 times their annual income to buy a house. The highest rents exist in theMiddle East, where a household spends an average of 45% of its monthly income on rent. Thecreation of affordable housing generally involves Governments subsidizing the cost ofbuilding new housing, stabilizing rent, or offering loans or credit at a low-interest rate.Eligibility for public or subsidized housing is usually determined by a low income, and demandis especially high in urban areas.Citizens who feel the satisfaction of their right to housing is in jeopardy may pursue a varietyof legal and non-legal strategies to assert their rights. Legal strategies include legal appealsto prevent planned evictions or demolitions through court-ordered injunctions, legalprocedures to obtain compensation following an illegal eviction, complaints against illegalactions carried out by landlords in relation to rent levels, maintenance, or discrimination,allegations of discrimination in the allocation or availability of housing, complaints aboutunhealthy or inadequate housing and class action suits related to significantly increasedlevels of homelessness.Most states have programs designed to address the immediate issues of homelessness,although these programs are usually operated on a local level. Homeless shelters andtemporary housing provide shelter for those in need as well as other services such asGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 24 of 53
  25. 25. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011counseling, job training, and advocacy to help people move towards a position from whichthey can obtain and maintain their own housing. Most governments also have plans andprograms for aid to victims of natural disasters who have lost their homes. The followingtable summarizes the range of often overlapping approaches adopted by States to tacklehomelessness. While the reference here is to national responses in the industrializedsocieties of Europe, some lessons could be drawn and contextualized in the developingnation context.Table 3: Approaches to Homelessness Designation Short Description Elements of the ApproachEvidence-based A good understanding of the Monitoring and documentation of trends in problem of homelessness is homelessness and numbers of homeless people, key to developing effective and development of appropriate indicators policies Research and analysis on the causes of and solutions to homelessness should complement monitoring and documentation Regular revision of policies is necessary and most effective with a sound understanding of homelessness.Comprehensive includes policies on Emergency services are a crucial first step to emergency services and prevent people from living on the street for long resettlement of people who periods are homeless, and on the Integration should be the objective for all prevention of homelessness people who are homeless and should be adapted to the needs and potential or the individual person who is homeless Prevention – both targeted prevention (evictions, discharges from institutions) and systemic prevention (through general housing, education, and employment policies) are necessary.Multi- Homelessness is Integrating housing, health, employment,dimensional acknowledged to be a education and training and other perspectives in phenomenon requiring a homeless strategy, since the routes in and out solutions based on multi- of homelessness can be very diverse dimensional approaches Interagency working and general cooperation with other sectors as a vital component of every effective homeless strategy since homelessness cannot be tackled in a sustainable way by the homeless sector only Interdepartmental working between relevant housing, employment, health and other ministries is crucial for developing effective strategies to tackle homelessness, and to avoid negative repercussions of policies developed in different fields.Rights-based promotes access to decent, Use of international treaties on housing rights as stable housing as the a basis for developing a homeless strategyGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 25 of 53
  26. 26. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 indispensable precondition for Focus on enforceable right to housing to ensure the exercise of most of the the effective exercise of the right to housing other fundamental rights Acknowledgement of the interdependence of housing and other rights such as the right to live in dignity, the right to health.Participatory cooperation with service Involvement of all stakeholders (namely service providers is crucial given their providers, service users and public authorities) expertise on how to tackle the in policy development and evaluation is problem, and entails important for pooling all expertise and capacity participation available aiming to tackling homelessness Involvement of all stakeholders in implementing policy through a coordinated effort is the best way to achieve the objectives of any homeless strategy Participation of people experiencing homelessness should be used for the improvement of service quality and policymaking. Appropriate consultation structures should be created to take real account of the experience of people who are homeless.Statutory aims to underpin homeless A legal framework at national level/regional strategies with legislation level, which allows for consistency and accountability in implementation of homeless policies Statutory aims and objectives serve to effectively monitor and evaluate policy progress.Sustainable create a genuinely sustainable Adequate funding is crucial for any long-term approach leading to strategy to tackle and end homelessness sustainable solutions Political commitment at all levels (national, regional and local) Public support generated through information and awareness campaigns.Needs-based policies should be developed The needs of the individual are the starting point according to existing needs of for policy development on the basis of regular the homeless than structural needs surveys and by means of individualized needs of organisations integration plans Appropriate revision of homelessness policies and structures is necessary on a regular basis.Pragmatic Realistic and achievable adequate research to understand the nature and objectives are necessary and scope of homelessness, needs of the homeless, possible evolution of the housing and labour market and all other related areas A clear and realistic time schedule with long- term targets as well as intermediate targets.Bottom-up developing policy responses Importance of local authorities for the to homelessness at local level implementation of homeless strategies through (within a clear national or a shift towards greater involvement, moreGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 26 of 53
  27. 27. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011 regional framework) responsibility and more binding duties at local level Bringing service delivery closer to people who are homeless with local authorities in a strong position to coordinate partnerships between all relevant actors in the fight to end homelessness.Source: FEANTSA, Ending Homelessness: A Handbook for Policy Makers, 2010The key lesson here is that the issue of homelessness should be achieved at two mutuallysupportive levels: measures to realize the right to adequate housing, and measures toaddress the impacts of homelessness. The first seeks to address the structural needs forhousing and social infrastructure for the very poor, to prevent the occurrence ofhomelessness. The shortage of suitable housing is often the root causes of homelessnessamong households in developing countries. In many countries, there are just too fewdwellings for everyone and this hits poorer households hardest as they miss out in themarket. There is, thus, a need for much more housing as the priority. There is usually also aneed for more housing of a type that the poorest households can afford. It should be: cheap;built in labour intensive technologies to provide lots of work; situated close to sources ofwork, and serviced to a minimum level to keep costs down.The second, on the other hand, involves measures to protect, assist and bring those who arecurrently homeless back into mainstream society. The logical starting point for interventionstargeting the homeless is establishing a system whereby their legal identity could beascertained. Once this is achieved, one could proceed to protecting their safety and makingservices accessible to the homeless. The following are some immediately identifiable 65interventions to this end: Decriminalizing street sleeping and other behavior arising out of homelessness; Establishing and maintaining public water and sanitation points around cities to improve the health of street sleepers; Making available security ‘lockers’ for their belongings to reduce vulnerability to crime; Setting up places of safe refuge for abused women and children to reduce rape and sexual abuse; and, Provision of accessible social, medical and legal support.Though the importance of shelter of some type is obvious, this need not mean buildingspecial accommodation or night shelters. It may be sufficient initially to help people move65 Dr A. G. Tipple and Suzanne Speak, The Nature and Extent of Homelessness in Developing Countries, Global Urban Research Unit (GURU), University of Newcastle upon Tyne, DFID Project No. R7905, 2003Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 27 of 53
  28. 28. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 2011just one step up from sleeping rough, for example by providing some bedding, water andsanitation, to make life on the streets safer, more comfortable and more dignified. Whereempty buildings are available, legitimizing their use as shelters and centers for the provisionof additional support services could be considered.Interventions to support homeless women and children must begin with work to change theculture of family abuse and violence which is so often the cause of their homelessness. Inpractical terms, what is needed for many homeless women in developing countries is saferefuge and support to prevent them having to turn to crime, begging or prostitution, or newviolent relationships in order to feed their children.For any such intervention to be successful in supporting homeless people or reducinghomelessness there needs to be a culture of care and support. It is vital that all key actorsinclude homeless people in planning and implementing programs aimed at improving theirsituation. Another important consideration is the involvement of key stakeholders, especiallycurrent and potential service providers in decision-making at the policy and legislative levelsas well as the design and implementation of national programs led by mandated governmentinstitutions. Through NGOs and individuals, policy makers can learn of the priorities ofdifferent groups of homeless people and respond in a targeted way to their differing needsfor shelter, security and services.Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 28 of 53
  29. 29. Assessment on Homelessness & the Right to Adequate Housing in Ethiopia 1st Draft Prepared on 14 January 20114. Responses to Homelessness and its Impacts in Ethiopia 4.1. Ratification of International and Regional Human Rights InstrumentsEthiopia is a signatory to the UDHR and has ratified the major international and regionalhuman rights instruments including the International Covenant on Economic, Social andCultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention onthe Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discriminationagainst Women (CEDAW) and the African Charter on Human and peoples’ Rights. Table 4: Major Human Rights Instruments Ratified by the Government of Ethiopia Instrument Date RatifiedThe International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights June 11, 1993The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights June 11, 1993International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial June 23, 1976DiscriminationConvention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading March 14, 1994TreatmentConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against September 10,Women 1981Convention on the Rights of the Child May 14, 1991African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights June 2, 1998These instruments set down international standard for the protection and promotion ofhuman rights, including the right to adequate housing. (See previous chapter) 4.2. Constitutional Recognition of the Right to Adequate HousingThe 1995 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia has an in-built mechanism ofincorporating international laws as it has provisions which makes all internationalagreements ratified by Ethiopia part of the law of the land. Article 13/2 of the constitution hasa specific provision for international human rights instruments such as the UNCRC, UNDHR,ICCPR, and ICESER which also provide standards for the interpretation of the Constitution inmatters related to fundamental human rights. Ethiopia is also a party to the ICESCR thatcontains explicit provision for the right to adequate housing. According to the Constitutionthis international human rights instrument is part of the law of the land. Hence the rightscontained in the Convention constitute the legal framework for the right to housing.The Constitution provides for the right to property including immovable property on land.Although the Constitution does not contain an explicit article guaranteeing the right tohousing, it contains provisions under which the right is included. The Constitution states thatthe state has the obligation to allocate increasing resources to give to the public socialservices including education and health. It is no doubt that the right to housing falls underthis open ended provision. Moreover, the Constitution, under the social objectives set to beGhetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis,Freelance Socio-Legal ResearcherE-mail: Page 29 of 53