Aerial view of a typical suburb in Australia
Aerial view of a typical suburb in Australia
Fix Homelessness How to rebuild human lives

San Diego Declares Housing A ‘Human Right’ Without A Plan To End Homelessness

Originally published at The Federalist

By unanimous resolution last week, the city of San Diego declared that “housing is a human right.” But no one knows exactly what that means.

The city went on to reaffirm “its commitment to providing more housing services geared toward putting a roof over the head of every San Diegan.”

Quick to downplay the legal implications, city attorney Dan Eaton said of the resolution, “it’s pretty clear it doesn’t have any legal effect.” So, what does the declaration mean?

The city council rightly values housing as “a component of a standard of living adequate for health and well-being.” The resolution affirms that “housing provides stability and security” and that individuals “should have a secure, peaceful, and dignified place to live.” Nearly everyone agrees on the central importance of housing for human dignity. But if declaring housing to be a human right means that the government is obligated to provide housing with no strings attached, won’t that result in human disempowerment rather than security, peace, or dignity?

Protecting something of value, regardless of “human right” status, differs greatly from providing that object of value. When the government protects human rights like life, speech, and marriage, it prevents those rights from being wrongfully stripped from us. It does not provide them for us. For example, the government is not responsible for keeping us alive, platforming our speech, or offering us suitable spouses. This is a good thing. Maybe the real question, then, is not whether housing is a human right, but whether government is responsible for providing things, like housing, that are central to dignity and quality of life.

Continue Reading at The Federalist

Caitlyn McKenney

Program Coordinator, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Caitlyn (Axe) McKenney is program coordinator for Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her work has centered on government fiscal accountability, political rhetoric, and addiction with a focus on human dignity ethics. Caitlyn is a graduate of the University of Washington, has interned for a political advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., and has participated in the Vita Institute at the University of Notre Dame. She is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, has contributed at the Federalist, and has made local and national media appearances.