The United Nations General Assembly has adopted its first resolution on homelessness. This landmark resolution urges governments across the globe to address the causes of homelessness and to provide supports that those who have experienced homelessness need.
The resolution calls on Member States to address the structural drivers of homelessness, including inequality, poverty, access to affordable housing, and the high costs of energy and health care. It also calls on Member States to record not just the number of people who are visibly homeless but also those who are considered the hidden homeless
Sr. Jean Quinn D.W (Founder of Sophia) played a key role in getting this resolution passed. Jean has held the post of Executive Director of UNANIMA International at the United Nations since 2017. Jean was part of a panel of global experts on homelessness who met in Kenya in 2019 and began the process of drafting and advocating for a UN Resolution on Homelessness. As Co-Chair, of the Working Group to End Homelessness, a coalition of 31 organisations advocating for global action on the social injustice of homelessness, Jean has brought the experience and voices of those directly impacted by homelessness to the UN, raising the issue and driving the need for a resolution forward. Jean worked closely with representatives from Member States, particularly African Member States to meet with them and highlight the need for the United Nations General Assembly to pass this important resolution.
Welcoming the resolution Jean said “The fact that Member States accept to collectively work to eradicate homelessness and agree to report their progress to the U.N has the potential to be a powerful tool. Member States must be accountable for their plans to address homelessness and it is hoped that this level of accountability will be the driver to support thousands of people across the world to have a home of their own.”
Sr. Jean Quinn D.W who founded Sophia said that “ I drew on the experience of Sophia’s work throughout Ireland because through Sophia I saw that people who are homeless don’t only ask for a bed for the night in a hostel they want a home of their own so they can recover from the traumatic experience of homelessness and it was the voice of people experiencing homelessness that motivated me in the work to get this resolution passed at the U.N. The Irish Government has already signed up to the Lisbon Declaration to end homelessness by 2030, and I hope that the UN Declaration will keep the energy and focus of the Irish Government on attaining their ambitious target”
Jean Quinn speaking at the UN in 2020
The resolution's full title is:
“Inclusive social development policies and programmes to address homelessness, including in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19)” (document A/C.3/76/L.12/Rev.1).
The resolution is significant, for a number of reasons, within it the UN General Assembly urges Member States to ensure that their homelessness policies comply with international human rights obligations and are consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It urges them to eliminate all forms of discrimination against individuals experiencing homelessness, to enact gender sensitive programs and policies, to decriminalize homelessness and to foster social integration for young people, people with disabilities, migrants and indigenous peoples. It encourages close collaboration and broad-based partnerships at all levels as well as consultation of persons experiencing homelessness and civil society in the development of policies and programmes.
The UN General Assembly has also called on Member States to address the structural drivers of homelessness, including inequalities, poverty, a loss of housing and livelihood as well as a lack of decent job opportunities, access to affordable housing, social protection, land access, and the high costs of energy and health care.
The Assembly recognises the need to implement measures to promote and improve the mental health and well-being of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness including scaling up of comprehensive and integrated psychosocial support services.
Further, the Assembly calls on Member States to address the structural drivers of homelessness, including inequalities, poverty, a loss of housing and livelihood as well as a lack of decent job opportunities, access to affordable housing, social protection, land access, and the high costs of energy and health care. The Assembly recognises the need to implement measures to promote and improve the mental health and well-being of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness including scaling up of comprehensive and integrated psychosocial support services.
What is equally significant in the resolution is the call by the General Assembly to Statistical establish global indicators on social protection and access to adequate housing, as well as statistics to monitor homelessness as a way to avoid excluding those who are not “visibly” homeless, through quantitative and qualitative data