Taking The Right To Adequate Housing Into Homeless Tent Camps

View from inside a nylon tent at twilight, framing people and tents beyond
This scene was created by affordablehousingaction.org in accordance with the use restrictions of a Creative ML OpenRAIL-M license

A report from Canada discusses the housing rights of residents who are living in encampments. Encampments Across Canada: A Human Rights Approach (Encampments) also makes recommendations to governments about the right to adequate housing.

During the pandemic, changes to emergency shelter accommodation standards, concerns for health and safety, and the loss of work added substantially to the numbers of people living outdoors. For people who are not directly involved, the media has been a primary source of information about encampments. One part of Encampments discusses the media coverage of encampments, including the rights of people living in tents.

Encampments also includes five case studies, starting in 2020 and continuing through 2022. There were two case studies in British Columbia, two in Ontario and one Québec. Each study reviews legal cases that dealt with encampments and the rights of the people who live(d) in them. Local studies are significant because Canada has only recently affirmed the right to adequate housing. As well, the impact has yet to cascade to provincial and local governments. And as Encampments documents, local laws and by-laws were used over and over to clear encampments with limited consideration of the consequences for the people living in tents.

Next, the authors of the report compare the media coverage and case studies with existing guidance about encampments, which was issued in March 2020. 1. The gaps between the guidance and what happened form the basis of the recommendations in Encampments.

This study will be of interest to Canadians who are curious about the housing rights of people who live in tent encampments. Readers in other countries where there are encampments might also find the discussion valuable, because the analysis directly references international rights to adequate housing.

The full report, executive summary and case studies can be accessed at the Homeless Hub: Encampments Across Canada: A Human Rights Approach


  1. The 2020 guidance references the right to adequate housing as well as the rights of Indigenous people, which are protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People