The Gap Between Homelessness and Adequate Housing

Photo by bennett tobias on Unsplash
  1. Literally Homeless
  2. Imminent Risk of Homelessness
  3. Homeless under other Federal Statutes
  4. Fleeing or Attempting to Flee Domestic Violence
  • A “fixed” residence is stationary and permanent. For example, a house or apartment is “fixed,” but a car is not.
  • A “regular” residence is used on a regular and nightly basis. For example, a home your family owns and can stay in for the long term is “regular,” but an emergency shelter is used on a short-term basis and is not “regular.” 
  • An “adequate” residence is one that meets the physical, emotional, and psychological needs that a home typically provides.
  • Security of tenure: housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have a degree of tenure security that guarantees legal protection against forced evictions, harassment, and other threats. For example, when people live on land without permission or title of ownership, they are at risk of being removed without cause, recourse, or protection under the law.
  • Availability of services, materials, facilities, and infrastructure: housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating, lighting, food storage, or refuse disposal.
  • Affordability: housing is not adequate if its cost threatens or compromises the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights.
  • Habitability: housing is not adequate if it does not guarantee physical safety or provide adequate space, as well as protection against the cold, dampness, heat, rain, wind, other threats to health and structural hazards. 
  • Accessibility: housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account. 
  • Location: housing is not adequate if it is cut off from employment opportunities, health-care services, schools, childcare centers, and other social facilities, or if located in polluted or dangerous areas.
  • Cultural adequacy: housing is not adequate if it does not respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity. For example, latrines (outhouse style restrooms) are common and acceptable in rural Haiti but would not be sufficient in rural Mexico. The cultural standards and differences must be accommodated.

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