About us

THE SHIFT recognizes housing as a human right, not a commodity or an extractive industry. The Shift restores the understanding of housing as home, challenging the ways financial actors undermine the right to housing. Using a human rights framework, The Shift provokes action to end homelessness, unaffordability, and evictions globally.

  • “SHIFTING” THE WAY WE THINK

    Research, advocacy and outreach that promotes and reclaims the right to housing, as a social good and not a commodity.
  • ADVOCATING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

    Supporting and promoting existing local and grassroots advocacy on the right to housing
  • GLOBAL OBSERVATORY

    Evaluating through research, consultations and on the ground investigations, the status of the right to housing worldwide
  • MAKING THE RIGHT TO HOUSING A REALITY

    Encouraging States to regulate the impact of the private market on housing in line with human rights obligations and support local, regional and national governments in implementing the right to housing

“In almost every single country, in every region, in cities and towns across the globe, we are experiencing a human rights crisis – the housing crisis. And something needs to change. It’s time to reclaim the #Right2Housing. It’s time to Make the Shift.”

Housing and commercial real estate have become the ‘commodity of choice’ for corporate finance and the pace at which financial corporations and funds are taking over housing and real estate in many cities is staggering. The value of global real estate is about US$ 217 trillion, nearly 60 per cent of the value of all global assets, with residential real estate comprising 75 per cent of the total.”  

We are at a critical moment.

Well into the global housing crisis manufactured by global real estate investment and government inaction, we are starting to see people push back.

From grassroots organizing and mass protests to innovative social projects and a few bold policy changes, the movement to reclaim the right to housing is growing.

The Shift aims to – through advocacy, research and campaigning – support, promote, bolster and advance this movement.  

The Shift is a global convening. The Shift connects and mobilizes anyone working to secure the right to housing. From Berlin to Seoul, Montevideo to Montreal, The Shift includes cities big and small from every continent. It brings together governments, legislators, human rights institutes, urban planners, architects, scholars, grassroots groups, artists, philanthropists, lawyers, students, and NGOs. The Shift is led by Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, in partnership with United Cities Local Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Shift team includes lawyers, campaigners, filmmakers, community advocates, journalists, and researchers.

Leilani Farha

Global Director

Leilani Farha is the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and Global Director of The Shift. Her work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity. Leilani has helped develop global human rights standards on the right to housing, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She is the central character in the documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing, screening around the world. Leilani Launched The Shift in 2017 with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Government.

Julieta Perucca

Director of Policy and Programming

A law graduate from the University of Maastricht, with a degree in International and European Law, and a Political Science degree from the University of Ottawa, Julieta is an experienced researcher and human rights activist. She has been working alongside Leilani Farha for the last four years conducting missions, assisting with thematic and country reports, as well as helping to launch The Shift. She has been expertly trained in the area of the right to housing and as Director of Policy and Programming, she facilitates outreach with The Shift network including governments, organizational partners and human rights institutions and helps develop and ensure human rights compliance for housing related policy and programmes. Julieta leads the work on housing and climate change for The Shift.

As part of her law degree, Julieta has specialized in the procedural and substantive sides of the International and European Human Rights Framework. She speaks English, Spanish and French.

Dr. Kaitlin Schwan

Director of Research

Kaitlin teaches social policy at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, where is appointed Assistant Professor, Status Only. She is also a Senior Researcher at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (York University).

Since completing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Toronto, Kaitlin’s research has focused on homelessness prevention in Canada and beyond, particularly for women and youth. Across her work, Kaitlin uses research to build bridges between evidence, advocacy, policy, and lived expertise in order to advance housing justice for all.

Haseena Manek

Director of Communications

An alum of the Erasmus Mundus graduate program in Media, Journalism and Globalization, Haseena has extensive experience writing, reporting and producing content for a variety of organizations and outlets internationally.

Working as a journalist for over 10 years, Haseena continues to cover stories related to labour, migration and human rights. She obtained her combined Masters degree from Swansea University, Aarhus University and the Danish School of Media and Journalism as well as an undergraduate degree from York University. She has previously managed communications for other international human rights organizations and as Director of Communications, manages The Shift’s social media strategy and online content as well as producing original pieces on the right to adequate housing.

Kaitlin teaches social policy at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, where is appointed Assistant Professor, Status Only. She is also a Senior Researcher at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (York University).

Since completing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Toronto, Kaitlin’s research has focused on homelessness prevention in Canada and beyond, particularly for women and youth. Across her work, Kaitlin uses research to build bridges between evidence, advocacy, policy, and lived expertise in order to advance housing justice for all.

Sam Freeman

Title TBD

Sam is a human rights researcher with a degree in Law from Manchester Metropolitan University and a Master’s in International Humanitarian and Security Law from the University of Ottawa. During his Master’s he specialised in human rights within the United Nations framework and on increasing accountability in post-conflict justice processes.

He has spent a number of years working with the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, undertaking research and assisting in the writing of thematic reports and communications for the mandates of both the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to safe water and sanitation.

Get active

If you want to help make the shift, you can follow us on social media, and use the hashtag #maketheshift when promoting your right to housing events and statements.