Published On: 15 January, 20241.4 min read

EVICT Talk with Dr. Damian Collins – Realising the Human Right to Housing? Housing First in Policy and Practice

December 12th, 2023

In 2017, Canada adopted a human rights-based National Housing Strategy. Following this, in 2019 they recognised the human right to housing in domestic law for the first time. However, in the decade prior, Canada had embraced Housing First as its response to chronic homelessness. Observers often describe Housing First as a “right-based” response to homelessness. It offers direct access to permanent housing with few conditions and understands housing as a universal human need and entitlement.

Damien will discuss two studies his team conducted. They aimed to understand if and how Housing First realises the right to housing for the homeless in Alberta, Canada. He presented their evaluation of policy documents to assess the use of rights-based language, and the extent to which policies sought to fulfil seven components of the right to housing.  He will also present their evaluation of the operations of Housing First programs against four key human rights principles.

This talk highlights their key findings and reflect on both the strengths and limitations of Housing First in policy and practice.  Damien demonstrated how policies and programs can be systematically evaluated from a right to housing perspective and argue for greater attention to the human right to housing within the social sciences.

About the speaker

Dr. Damian Collins is a Professor at the University of Alberta. He is a human geographer, focussing on housing and homelessness issues, especially in urban contexts. He is the Director of the Community Housing Canada Research Partnership, which sits within the Collaborative Housing Research Network.

The next EVICT Talk takes place on February 29th at 4:00 – 5:00 PM CET (Amsterdam / Berlin / Paris). For more information, please visit our event page.

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