Amid Rising Homelessness, City Council Declares Housing a ‘Fundamental Human Right’

Apartment construction in San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to declare housing a “fundamental human right” and support efforts to put a roof over the head of every resident.

The council acted on a resolution introduced by Council President Sean Elo-Rivera in October that commits the city to implement policies that address the root causes of homelessness and encourage the construction of affordable housing.

The resolution isn’t legally binding, but puts the council on record as seeking solutions to the housing crisis.

“This resolution is a values statement and an invitation for accountability to uphold the dignity and rights of our residents,” said Elo-Rivera. “It should serve as an important shift away from the failed practice of treating housing as a commodity toward a future where this basic human need is made available to all.”

“I am looking forward to taking action to make good on this commitment so we can lift San Diego out of our housing and homelessness crisis,” he added. “This starts with our ongoing effort to strengthen tenant protections.” 

During the council meeting, staff reported that the city will not incur any new financial obligations because of the resolution.

The idea that housing is a basic human right has a long history. In 1948, the United States joined 47 other countries in signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included housing.