What is it?
The Homeless Bill of Rights is a compilation of basic rights drawn from European and International human rights law. By endorsing it, cities reaffirm their commitment to human rights which should guide all public actors towards tackling the root causes of poverty and homelessness. It is a flexible document that cities can translate and adapt to their own context, respecting its essence. Cities are strongly encouraged to build a participatory strategy at local level to involve all stakeholders before the Bill is signed by the city council.
What's the context?
Cities, regions and even some countries across Europe are using the criminal and administrative justice systems to minimise the visibility of people experiencing homelessness. Governments have established formal and informal measures and enforced policies to limit where homeless people can congregate and often punish those who engage in life-sustaining or natural human activities in public spaces.
Penalisation strategies can push homeless people further into poverty and social exclusion. Rather than punishing them, local authorities should extend a hand to encourage homeless people to claim their rights. Governments must ensure the right to adequate housing and an adequate standard of living for all citizens. Public funding should be used to assist and protect households, not to carry out costly penalisation operations.
Therefore, in partnership with Housing Rights Watch, we are launching this European campaign to encourage cities to recognise the rights of homeless people. International obligations at UN level oblige Member States to end homeless by 2030 and the EU Urban Agenda need to deliver on this. The Urban Poverty Partnership has called on cities to take human rights-based approaches to tackling urban poverty and homelessness in their draft Action Plan.
How to endorse the Homeless Bill of Rights:
There is not a single procedure for endorsement. Approaches are quite diverse and adapted to the context. For example, FEANTSA Slovenian members have translated the Bill and presented it to the main cities in the country leading to the city councils of four of those cities signing it. On the other hand, French FEANTSA members in Paris have recently initiated a strategy together with all stakeholders working at local level, including homeless people themselves.
FEANTSA hopes that this initiative will help us to raise public debate on this issue and emphasise that a human rights-based approach is preferable to a punitive one.
Cities that have signed:
Spain: Barcelona; Slovenia: Maribor, Slovenj gradec, Kranj, Murska Sobota, but other important cities in Europe have been contacted or already initiated a process to sign the Homeless Bill of Rights.
Please, contact Maria J. Aldanas: email@example.com.
Follow the hashtag #HomelessBillofRights to stay up to date
Press coverage so far:
- Leilani Farha opinion piece in the Guardian about role of cities
- Article in Mundao au Minuto (Portuguese)
- Article in Jornal Noticias (Portuguese)
- Article in Diario de Noticias (Portuguese)
- Article in L'Agenzia di Redattore Sociale (Italian)
Infographics (please feel free to download them and use them to promote the Bill):