Report on UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Visit to New York City

LeilaniFraha and Miguel Robles-Duran

New York NY – UN Special Rapporteur on the Right To Adequate Housing Leilani Farha was in New York City last week to discuss her thematic report on Informal Settlements at the UN. While in New York City, Ms Farha met with several civil society groups. Her first meeting with civil society was held at Parsons New School near Union Square. The event organized by Miguel Robles Duran a professor at the school and the founder of the Masters Program in Design and Urban Ecologies and Robert Robinson coordinator of USA Alliance of Inhabitants was well attended by a mix of community members, students, organizers and other members of academia who listened to professor Robles-Duran and Ms. Farha discuss the financialization of housing around the world and the Rapporteur's campaign #MakeTheShift. The two hour event ended with a round of questions and answers from the audience and the Rapporteur encouraging the crowd to put human needs before profit with respect to housing.

On Thursday, Ms. Farha moderated a discussion based on her thematic report on Informal Settlements. The event hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation's New York City office also featured Lorena Zarate of Mexico, president of Habitat International Coalition (HIC), Pete White executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), Jane Weru of Kenya, founder and executive director of  Akiba Mashinani Trust  and Fidi Bagasao of Philippines in a round-table discussion with Ms. Farha on the strategies used to realize the right to housing in their respective countries. Finances obviously was at the forefront of this conversation as it was the previous night.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Farha was scheduled to present her thematic report to the UN and the participants from the round-table the previous evening were to be in attendance. However, on Friday morning the Rapporteur was a guest of the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care steering committee meeting at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She spoke to a mix of homeless and formerly homeless members, representatives of local government agencies and not-for-profit shelter providers who create housing and services for chronically homeless person.  

What are U.N. Special Rapporteurs?
Special Rapporteurs ("SRs") are independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council (formerly the U.N. Commission on Human Rights) with the mandate to monitor, advise and publicly report on human rights situations in specific countries (country mandates) and on human rights violations worldwide (thematic mandates). The thematic mandates cover a wide range of issues relating to civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, including the human rights of migrants, the human right to housing, violence against women, the rights of internally displaced persons, freedom of religion and arbitrary detention, among many others.    

Robert Robinson is coordinator of USA Canada Alliance of Inhabitants.