Simon Communities call to include right to a home in Constitution

The Simon Communities charity wants the Government to include the right to a home in the Constitution, saying homelessness violates a number of international treaties to which Ireland has signed up.

Speaking at the organisation’s Housing, Homelessness and Rights conference yesterday, national spokeswoman Niamh Randall said that Ireland has obligations under five international covenants referring to the right to housing.

“Under international human rights obligations, housing is not a commodity; it is a human right,” she said.

“According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 25: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself [herself] and of his [her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services’.

“Therefore homelessness is a clear violation of this right. Under international law, to be adequately housed means having security of tenure — not having to worry about being evicted or having your home taken away with very little notice. It means having access to appropriate services, schools, and employment.”

The conference, which marks the beginning of this year’s Simon Week was opened by the minister of state for housing and urban renewal, Damien English, and focused on enshrining rights at the heart of policy, practice, and legislation.

Noting that the 2014 Constitutional Convention recommended that the right to a home should be included in the Constitution, the charity said it wanted the issue to now be referred to the new Oireachtas committee on housing, planning and local government in order for it to be progressed further.

People who are homeless are often excluded from society, she told delegates.

“The damage and trauma being done is untold. What is clear is that, without the security of a place to call home, it is very difficult to fulfil many other human rights.”

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