A term used for large luxury condo buildings that function primarily as investment opportunities and are thus often left unoccupied.
A court-ordered removal of a tenant from the property in which they reside. While not all evictions are a violation of the human right to housing, evictions into homelessness or that result in homelessness due to a lack of sufficient access to housing, is a violation of the human right to housing.
The increase in size and importance of a country’s financial sector relative to its overall economy.
Financialization of Housing
The myriad ways housing is used primarily as a tool for making money. Some of the methods used are:
– The purchasing of residential land or properties that then sit empty until the price of that land increases and can be sold for profit.
– Short-term stay companies like Airbnb and Vrbo, which decrease the availability of long-term housing for local residents by converting homes to short-term holiday lets specifically for financial gain.
– The purchasing of large numbers of homes by private landlords to generate income. These landlords will often spend less on improving building conditions or undertaking repairs in order to maximize their profits.
The process whereby a historically poor or working-class neighborhood gradually changes as wealthier residents move in. These wealthier residents attract high-end businesses, which in turn attract more upper-class residents. Eventually, this influx of new residents, businesses, and amenities drives up demand for housing in the area, increasing the cost of housing until the working-class residents are pushed out of the neighborhood due to inaffordability.
Human rights are legal provisions intended to ensure all people are able to live with dignity, safety and security. These rights are inherently and universally given, meaning they are given to all of us equally simply because we exist and are not granted by a state. Human rights law specifies the treatment or conditions that people are either entitled to receive, or that they are protected from being exposed to.
The human right to adequate housing is recognised under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 11 gives all people the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. Housing must be capable of meeting a number of criteria to be regarded as adequate in normal circumstances. These criteria have been authoritatively set out as:
– Legal security of tenure means people should be protected against being removed from their homes or the land which they occupy without appropriate legal recourse.
– Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure means housing should have facilities necessary for health, security, comfort, and nutrition and should provide access to, for instance, safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
– Affordability means the cost of people’s housing should be comparable to their income, with subsidies provided to people whose housing is regarded as unaffordable. Generally, housing costs are considered unaffordable where they amount to more than 30% of someone’s income.
– Habitability means housing should be sufficiently spacious and should protect residents from hazards such as inclement weather, fire and disease, as well as guarantee their physical safety.
– Accessibility means housing should be accessible by everyone who is entitled to live there, including disadvantaged groups.
– Location means housing should be located in areas with access to employment opportunities, services such as healthcare and schools, and other important social facilities.
– Cultural adequacy means housing policies and construction must enable people to express their cultural identity. This is an important consideration when, for instance, governments seek to determine how to ensure adequate housing for Indigenous Peoples.
Human Rights Obligations
Human rights are not vague or general statements of what people are entitled to. When a government incorporates human rights into domestic law or signs on to international or regional human rights treaties, they also must accept obligations regarding how they should ensure human rights are realised.
In the context of the human right to housing, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that a government must ‘take steps … to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognised….’ This obligation has three main parts which can be broken down as follows:
– States must ‘take steps’: States must do something – they cannot simply avoid implementing policies or laws which are necessary to secure the right to housing. They must be continually moving forward in their objective of ensuring all people have adequate housing.
– States must ‘use the maximum of available resources’: States are required to use all the resources (both financial and otherwise) they can possibly make available to secure the right to housing.
– States must ‘progressively realise’ the right in full: While states must continually move forward towards providing adequate housing, providing fully adequate housing to all may take time. Therefore, policies introduced to bring about the full realization of the right to housing may be implemented over a period of time. However, states must prioritise those who are most in need of adequate housing (such as people who are homeless) and ensure they are provided with adequate housing as soon as possible.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs)
A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns, operates, or finances income-generating real estate. Modeled after mutual funds, REITs pool the capital of numerous investors which, in addition to private corporations, can include pension funds and unions (yes, the pension funds people pay into for retirement and the unions that support workers’ rights). By pooling capital it becomes possible for these investors, which are often corporate entities and not people, to earn dividends from real estate investments—without having to buy, manage, or finance any properties themselves. Meaning it is in the best interest of these investors that the properties generate more money (AKA if you’re paying more in rent).
A fund which invests in weak debt in order to then sell the debt for a larger amount.