Will The ‘Crisis Of The Day’ Forever Delay The Human Right To Adequate Housing?

A protest crowd in France on a rainy day, umbrellas outnumbering the 'yellow vests'
les Gilets Jaunes photo by Patrice CALATAYU is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Have these protesters in France helped to hijack the right to adequate housing?

Waiting lists exist worldwide for those who need affordable housing but don’t have it. Ultimately, do these lists represent a positive movement towards a human right to adequate housing for all? Or are these lists to all intents and purposes a sham, their purpose to provide hope without fulfilment? When it comes to a human right to housing, more important matters seem to always intervene and hijack the attention, the money, and all the dramatic government initiatives.

What is the ‘event of the day’ that may postpone the delivery of adequate housing for all? We all know the current answer: the world is going to hell in a climate-change hand basket. All belts must be tightened to prevent a slow-rolling disaster.

And so the clarion call to prevent climate change now echoes around the world. But will we all. . . can we all. . . participate in essential belt tightening? For those with inadequate housing or no housing at all, there is little or nothing that can be sacrificed to prevent global climate disaster.

That won’t stop governments from making sacrifices on behalf of the poorest by curtailing funding support for programs such as truly affordable housing even as they burden the poor with extra living costs.

Much to the surprise of the French government in 2018, however, a climate change initiative that affected average, not particularly wealthy, citizens  was met — not by humble acquiesence, but with violence.

Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protest movement grew in rebellion against a massive increase in the price of diesel fuel — a government initiative to discourage the use of fossil fuels that accelerate climate change.

Civil unrest by Gilets Jaunes shook governments in Europe, which were suddenly faced with an unexpected reality: violence might be an inevitable outcome of attempting to finance social change by picking the pockets of less affluent citizens.

Following the protests, the EU set up a Social Climate Fund which reduces the cost burden of the fuel prices increases and encourages switching to green alternatives. Can it more equitably share the cost of climate change prevention? Read more in REUTERS: EXPLAINER-Can Europe’s new Social Climate Fund protect poor from rising carbon cost?

Whatever the role of governments in sharing the cost, the question still remains, what about those so poor they cannot afford food or shelter? We may all be warned it will be necessary to tighten our belts to undo the ruination we’ve caused to the planet. But how do you tighten belts when you have no belts to tighten?

Which brings us back to our initial question: in the light of wars and disasters, whether natural or a product of social folly, will a human right to adequate housing for most people remain nothing more than a placebo placement on a never-to-be fulfilled waiting list for a home?