A rights-based approach to the HousingTO Plan 2020-2030

Leilani Farha, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, has identified six key elements that could be part of a rights-based approach to the HousingTO Plan:

Rights-based decision-making
Similar to Intersectional Gender Equity Analysis that the City employs in its budget process, a rights-based HousingTO Plan would implement protocols for city staff and officials to review the impact of any decisions on the right to housing. In rights-based decision-making, human rights are a primary consideration, taking precedence over other factors. Decision-making processes go beyond consultation, to engage the meaningful participation of individuals and communities directly affected.

Coordinated governance & action
A rights-based HousingTO Plan would set out structures and bodies to coordinate the City’s work on housing and homelessness. Currently, Toronto’s housing-related functions are dispersed across multiple City divisions. In a rights-based approach, divisions would work together across silos to coordinate action and resources in innovative ways that expand the impact of City investments.

Goals, targets, timelines, and mechanisms
A rights-based HousingTO Plan would include goals, targets, and timelines for the reduction and elimination of homelessness, and for ensuring adequate housing for all residents over time. The Plan would put in place specific policies and programs to meet those goals, identify the obligations of other levels of government, and set out precisely what the City is committed to doing.

Transparent, evidence-based monitoring
In order to ensure it is advancing the right to housing, the Plan would be subject to evidence-based monitoring, using high-quality data disaggregated by race, gender, age, income, and other variables, to determine the impacts of the Plan’s policies and programs on the housing rights of priority populations and equity-seeking groups.

Rights-based participation and leadership
The Plan would be designed, implemented, and monitored with the participation and leadership of diverse individuals and communities directly affected by inadequate housing and homelessness, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. Communities would have opportunities to provide input into decision-making processes.

Accountability mechanisms
A rights-based HousingTO Plan would include independent mechanisms, outside the court system, through which the right to adequate housing can be monitored, claimed, and enforced. For example, the National Housing Strategy will include a Federal Housing Advocate who will receive and investigate information about systemic issues that interfere with access to adequate housing. The Advocate will provide recommendations that the Minister must take into consideration in implementing the National Housing Strategy.

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