The right to adequate housing: are we focusing on what matters?

The emergence of discussion around the human right to adequate housing has been one of the most positive and potentially exciting developments in housing policy in recent years. Recent discussions have been very much filtered through a legal lens. What has been missing is any discussion on what we mean by ‘adequate housing’ in a Scottish context, how it might be applied in everyday practice and how implementation might be continuously strengthened to ensure progress towards the full realisation of adequate housing for everyone.

This report, commissioned by Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) and written by Gillian Young (Newhaven Research), seeks to move the discussion into the realm of policy, programme design and resource allocation. An intention to “respect, protect and fulfil human rights” is only part of the story; government, local and national, also has an obligation to act to “progressively realise” the right to adequate housing.

ALACHO describe the report as a “can opener”. It is not a definitive treatment of the subject, nor are the conclusions the only ones available.  The report seeks instead to use the process of defining “adequate housing” to explore the options available, the metrics that could be employed and the current state of the data that could be used to measure progress.

It presents illustrative estimates for the numbers of households living in situations that may fall short on those aspects of adequate housing that we have been able to measure, however imperfectly. The numbers aren’t small; the question is how do we mainstream the Human Rights perspective in policy and programmes and deliver on the obligation to realise them more fully?

Author: Gillian Young


Full report:                                            Executive summary:



Date: June 9, 2021 7:00 am


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