Opinion: Housing Is a Human Right

House | Image by sommart sombutwanitkul

Even the United Nations Human Rights Office believes that housing is a human right.

“Too often violations of the right to housing occur with impunity. In part, this is because, at the domestic level, housing is rarely treated as a human right. The key to ensuring adequate housing is the implementation of this human right through appropriate government policy and programmes, including national housing strategies.”

It is not only about this, but think about how this would adversely affect someone’s mental health. If you have ever experienced homelessness, then you understand. If you haven’t then you should talk with someone who has.

In the United States of America we have HUD, Housing and Urban Development.

“The purpose of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to provide housing and community development assistance and to make sure everyone has access to “fair and equal” housing. To achieve these goals, HUD runs or participates in many programs intended to support homeownership, increase safe and affordable rental housing, reduce homelessness, and fight housing discrimination.”

However, when you ask them for help concerning housing, just like their website says they do, instead you get passed around from person to person. Eventually you don’t get results, or they tell you they won’t do anything to help you.

“Thank you for contacting this office for an assessment of your claims. After careful consideration, HUD does not have authority to investigate your claims under the jurisdictional requirements of the Violence Against Women Act. Therefore, the inquiry has been closed and no further action will be taken on the matter.”

Yes, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has the authority to help individuals with their housing needs. It’s about being homeless because of domestic violence, and without the proper help, this is what happens to victims of abuse. The Violence Against Women’s Act says it will help victims of domestic violence with speedy relocation. Our government promised them housing assistance and they are not getting the proper help they need. Yet, nobody in Texas seems to know anything about this, or where the funds might be to help domestic victims get housing quickly.

There are two major North Texas cities. The population of McKinney according to their website is approximately 206,654.

Frisco’s population is approximately 223,979.

It is probably more, especially considering how both cities are rapidly growing. New housing is going up, and so are far too many apartment complexes. I do not believe that you can drive six blocks and not see another apartment complex. In some areas of these cities they are right next to each other and there are multiple buildings.

One third of all homeless people are domestic violence victims. That is a very large population of homeless people. However, when they are lucky enough to get housing, they still cannot get in anywhere anytime soon. They end up being told there is a waiting list for six months or more. Understand that these victims of abuse have already waited years just to get off of the waiting list. Yes years. In some cases it is four or more years.

Now let me put something else into perspective for you, and this is definitely where HUD and our government officials are greatly failing not only victims of domestic violence, but anyone else who is trying to get housing in America. Are there about a hundred and fifty apartment complexes in McKinney, or maybe fewer? Maybe one hundred, or seventy-five, or maybe there are more. Now think about other cities like Frisco, Denton, Plano or Dallas, because they too have an abundance of apartment complexes. Then there are the rural areas that are also rapidly growing like Prosper and Aubrey, and how many apartment complexes do you think there are? Yet, the majority of these places will not accept housing vouchers. Why is that and why isn’t our government doing something about this?

If you are lucky enough to get housing, you are told that you must stay within a particular budget. The budget goes by zip codes, so for example, if you wanted to live in downtown McKinney, the budget is much lower than it is if you went further away from the downtown area. Although who knows why, especially considering how expensive it is to live downtown. This is where you are probably saying okay, that makes sense, because you obviously cannot have an unlimited budget. Now on top of the rent, you must also include your utilities, water, electricity, or for example does the complex charge for trash removal, or do they have a maintenance fee. Plus, you also have renters insurance, and maybe they will charge you something more, so there goes your budget, what if they don’t have a washer and a dryer? Most of these places don’t provide you with a washer or dryer, so that you can do your laundry. Then think about inflation, because we are certainly aware that rental prices have increased. Some apartment complexes now charge what a two-bedroom used to cost for a one-bedroom apartment. Some charge well over $3,000 for a three-bedroom, and when I say three-bedroom, I usually mean two bedrooms and a small office or den that often times does not have a proper door.

This is again where HUD and our government are failing, because people, especially victims of domestic violence, deserve to be safe, to have a roof over their heads, and instead wait, wait, and wait some more. Then, when they finally get the good news that they can start looking for a place to live, they cannot afford all of the deposits because of the financial abuse their abuser has caused them. Perhaps they are a select lucky few who get a housing voucher, and then they are obligated to stay within an unreasonable price range. Also, do not forget that they have to add all those other costs that are required in order for them to lease somewhere. It is not only apartment complexes, because if someone is lucky enough to be able to get a landlord to accept the voucher who has a home for lease, they can do this. That is next to impossible, because the homeowners do not want to do this. It is also not that easy to find any one-bedroom houses, or even a townhouse, because the majority have two bedrooms or more.

Some cities will provide you with a list of places that will accept you. While others like Frisco and Plano won’t. You also need to remember that some of these places are only for people who are the age of sixty-two and they do not accept children. Yes, that is right, approximately only seven places will help you not to be homeless in McKinney, Frisco, and that includes Aubrey as well. When I say approximately this is because out of those seven, two of them did not respond to me. This is very likely because their waiting list is indefinite, because some of the places said that when people come in, they just do not leave. Think about this. Again, think about how many apartment complexes there are in these cities. Why aren’t more places willing to help the homeless? Even more importantly why aren’t these cities more willing to help the homeless? Have any of you ever inquired about this with any of these cities? If your answer is no, well why not?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development could, and should do a lot more to make things better, much easier, but they don’t, and why not? Isn’t their goal to get people housed? Does HUD believe that housing is a human right, because if you factor all of this in I would say that they don’t. It should not be this difficult for someone who is suffering from being homeless. If the government can fund other things then they can certainly give the Department of Housing and Urban Development much more of an allowance in order to tackle these major issues, and make this a much smoother process for people to be able to get a roof over their heads. Just like anything else we must make our government aware of this, and unless you have had to deal with this, or know someone who has you are not likely going to know these things. Well now you do, so speak up about this. Help people who need your help. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about someone who has already suffered from abuse. They are lucky enough to escape, and now they are homeless. Some of these victims have their children with them. Just like you, they too deserve to have a home. Somewhere they can call their own where they feel safe. Then also think about what you just read, and that the majority of these places are located in unsafe neighborhoods. They just left their abusers. Do they really deserve to feel unsafe again? Would you want to live in an unsafe neighborhood with your children? This is what is on their list of requirements, because everything is zoned by zip codes.

People have a grave misunderstanding of those who are homeless and looking for housing, because the majority are good, kind, decent people, and they have children they are trying to keep safe. I have previously talked about this. Listen to what she’s saying about staying in a shelter, and then listen to what is said eight years later. Now listen to what the Texas woman is saying. This should be very embarrassing this is for anyone who thinks this way, especially for this North Texas city. This wasn’t only talked about here, but was written up in several different articles. Yet this city still hasn’t commented on what was said. More importantly, they still have not done anything to fix this.

Frisco, which is talked about in this video has one unit to house their homeless. A city that very easily could, and should be building another location, perhaps two more to help the homeless. Also, this is a city that has the majority of places that will not accept housing vouchers. As they said, “The City does not provide section 8 vouchers so we aren’t required to maintain a list. As I mentioned, most Housing authorities maintain a list and Frisco does have a housing authority, however, it is small and they don’t provide section 8 vouchers at that housing authority.”

Frisco is certainly not a small North Texas city with a population of approximately 223,979, so again why is this their position on helping the homeless? It is not only this city, because Richardson offers no help, and neither does Aubrey, and the list goes on, and on.

Out of approximately the 64 apartment complexes that were contacted in several cities only 57 said they do accept housing vouchers. Some have yet to reply back. Also keeping in mind that some of these apartments are run by the same companies, so if one has said no then the others do not accept this either. I am still continuing to contact places as I am writing this article, so that I can hear what their answer is, but again it is a rarity if they say yes.

Have we become so jaded that we do not want to house the homeless, do anything, and everything that we can to help them? Think about a domestic violence victim having the nerve to leave their abuser only to end up struggling and homeless. Economic, financial abuse is domestic violence, and unless a judge is willing to help this is where the victims are left. You wouldn’t think so, but it is also a rarity if a judge does help. Many of these victims have children. Would you want to be them, and having to worry whether or not you are going to have to sleep in your car, or much worse on the street? Some people are aware that when it comes to domestic violence financial abuse is a very serious problem for the victims. If you have an abuser controlling the narrative who is going to help you? It certainly does not seem to be the Family Court judges. Although it absolutely should be.

Listen to what John Oliver has to say, especially towards the end of his video, because could HUD change this? Yes they can if they made the housing choices more accessible, and much more affordable for the renters. HUD should also require that if a city has a particular population above say 50,000 then they must accept housing vouchers. Another idea is that HUD could lease hotels, and then that way the people who are on their long waitlists would have a place to live until they can get in somewhere. This is a better option than having people living on the street waiting for housing, or attempting to sleep in their car, and that is if they are lucky enough to have a car to sleep in. Our President should be addressing this, because the United Nations has. The United States of America should also seriously consider what Finland has done to help their homeless people.

“Thanks to the ‘Housing First’ programme, 3,500 people have received a home and 80 percent have been able to hold on to them.”

I know that you are probably thinking Finland is a small country, but this is a start. Start with the State of Texas, and then quickly move onto other states. Finland is close to the size of New Mexico, and Montana is just slightly larger. We have to start somewhere in order to help others properly.

We should believe that people are inherently good until they do something to prove us otherwise. Some people cannot get past it’s not happening to me, so why should I care? Maybe not, but it could just as easily happen to you. It might be happening to someone you know, or someone they know. Homelessness got progressively worse when the pandemic hit. Now imagine the people who were already struggling and homeless. What would you do? Where would you live? These people deserve just as much of a chance to come back, but they can’t if they keep getting pushed down. Our government officials, HUD, and our President must do much more to help. Talk about this article with your family, friends, your neighbors, even with the people that you work with. Change how you view things. Talk about this with our Senators, write to them, send them John Oliver’s video, and send them this article, because collectively we can do so much more together to help than if we are misguided by people who do not understand what they are talking about.

Lilli is a Mom, Writer, Photographer, and an Advocate for victims of domestic abuse, and animal rights.

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  1. Betsy Whitfill

    “fair and equal” housing is an unrealistic goal…it would mean putting everyone in public housing. Safe housing is achievable.

  2. Bret

    We should help people briefly who are down on their luck. Housing is not now nor ever has been a right. US has spent trillions of dollars on welfare programs that have done little to change anything. These programs only keep them in the system. Most homeless are their bc of drugs and mental problems and self inflicted stupidity. The government cannot fix this problem. A booming economy that is not deterred by over overtaxation and regulation is the best fix. When there are jobs available and the homeless will not take jobs that can improve their life then these people need to be on their own. You do not get the best jobs when you have no experience or education. Yiu start at the bottom and work your way up.

  3. Bill

    Expand HUD? Absolutely not. HUD should be eliminated. The government already stick their nose into too many things and we don’t need more endless government programs.

  4. Zulia

    Maybe a housing is a human right, but it’s also human right to get help for mental issue, it’s also right to work, to pay bills. No, it’s not someone’s right be lazy, refusing help, and act that the government has to pay while they do nothing to help themselves. Why I suppose work hard and pay taxes for those who not only doesn’t want to work but think they are smarter than me or those like me because they can do nothing and get paid by the government. The housing might be the right only for those who does everything they can in their power, which unfortunately many of them don’t want give up smoking or drinking, etc., which cost money. Some people make poor choices and then they act that it’s their right, NO!

  5. RiverKing

    “Human rights” does not mean “provided by government at public expense”.

    • Tom

      When something is a right, then somone else has an obligation. If it’s not the government, who has the obligation? If it is the government, where is it in our Constitution that it is the government’s duty to provide it?

      Our education system has failed the public. It teaches entitlement without responsibility. It only gets worse in the universities. When generations grow up thinking the government owes them food, housing, health care, a phone, how else is a culture expected to behave?

      What if some articulate homeless were to speak to students about what life looks like when you don’t have life skills to get a job, a car, a home, or relationship skills to avoid choosing an abusive partner?

      When schools teach virtue again, expect graduates to take personal responsibility for their choices.

  6. Mary Ellen Bluntzer

    Anything the government does involves massive waste of money. Please investigate the housing projects around the country that have been a great deal for politicians and bureaucrats and a total loss for the taxpayer and the needy. Helping homeless people is an excellent goal for a society. Thank you for the facts about that population. However, our society must ask ourselves “Why do we outsource acts of charity to our fellow citizens in the most regulatory burdened, wasteful way?” Do we wish to avoid getting our hands dirty by actually getting to know these people? I have made a rule to assist people I know personally and I have had no shortage of people to help. I am sick of our ‘hands off” manner of helping. A community weaves itself by having a network of relationships that crosses socioeconomic borders. Unfortunately it appears we would rather virtue signal from afar by pouring money into a wasteful system and telling ourselves we have addressed the problem. The cost: inept agencies squandering money and loss of a real community that can supervise the investment and make sure the nonmonetary factors are included. Money isn’t the solution. Relationship is. Wise charity follows.

  7. Roy Getting

    The domestic violence complex receives billions from tax payers. They don’t need more. Personal responsibility is the key. Programs like Family Promise help families get back on their feet without government funding.

  8. Thomas

    I’m all over this fair and equal housing idea. I suggest it start with people like AOC and our other congresscritters who live in luxury high-rises. When they are living in Section 8, then I think we’ll see reasonable laws dealing with the housing crisis.

    And let me add that allowing 2.3 million people to enter the country illegally over the last 2 years is exacerbating the problem. It’s just like our government to create a problem they can only solve by raising my taxes and questioning how I live.

  9. Mac



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