Using children’s rights in homelessness policy

Date: 29th October 2017
Category: Social security

This new briefing from CRAE explains how taking a children's rights approach to homeless policy could help challenge and tackle issues of children experiencing homelessness and being forced to live in temporary accommodation such as Bed and Breakfasts, often for long periods of time.

The past decade has seen a huge growth in numbers of children experiencing homelessness and being forced to live in temporary accommodation. Living in temporary accommodation can result in breaches of many key children's rights.

This report is the fourth in a series of briefings and is part of a three year project funded by the Baring Foundation to build the capacity of the voluntary sector to use children's rights arguments in their policy and public affairs work.

Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has found that human rights and anti-poverty work are rarely integrated into UK public policy. This is a missed opportunity.

How are children's human rights relevant to housing?

Adequate housing is a human right recognised under international law (including in Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and has been enshrined in major international human rights treaties including the CRC. The state of a child's home - in terms of how fit it is for habitation, its size, stability and location can affect children's rights in terms of their physical and mental health, education, relationships and safety.

This briefing gives an overview of the CRC articles that are most applicable to tackle homelessness policy issues and the CRC Committee's most recent relevant Concluding Observations from the UK's examination in June 2016, including urging the Government to enforce the ban of use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families for more than 6 weeks.

It also covers the relevant articles under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which the UK has ratified and is the core treaty protecting economic rights for both adults and children. The briefing outlines seven essential components of adequate housing, the relevant Concluding Observations from 2016 and two General Comments clarifying that the right to housing is a broad right and should be seen as the right to live somewhere in 'security, peace and dignity'.

How can you take a children's rights approach to homeless policy?

The briefing goes on to suggest ten recommendations for how organisations can use children's rights approaches and arguments in tackling and challenging homelessness. In particular it discusses the use of strategic communications to help reframe current narratives and debates amongst the public, the media and decision makers to achieve policy change around human rights and housing.