Housing, homelessness and human rights: advocating a rights-based response to a systemic problem
Homelessness is one of the most visible human rights deprivations of our time. Yet, it does not provoke the same horror and outrage of other crises of similar magnitude. The complacency surrounding homelessness is alarming, and has allowed for the problem to worsen as states continually are not held to account for their role in enabling the structures which create homelessness. With a view to strengthening state accountability, this thesis will examine the twin phenomena of commodification and financialisation. It will explore the influence these processes may have on approaches to housing, arguing that they are largely responsible for state policies which are incompatible with the demands of economic, social and cultural rights. It will do this through a case study of the situations of Ireland and Finland, two states which in recent years have taken opposing approaches to addressing homelessness. This thesis will argue that a human rights approach to homelessness necessitates stronger identification of points at which a state is not in accordance with its obligations under human rights law. It will make the case that homelessness is a human rights violation, and that state culpability for the creation and perpetuation of homelessness can, and must, be identified.