The 2019 National Housing Strategy recognizes housing as a human right. This means that people have a right to adequate housing that is secure, peaceful, and respects their dignity. Choice in housing is critical to the right to housing, and people have the right to live in an encampment and not be evicted.
However, The UN Commission on Human Rights identifies that, at a minimum, adequate housing meets the criteria of:
- security of tenure (protection against forced evictions)
- availability of basic services (water, sanitation, electricity, phone, and internet access)
- affordability (so that housing cost does not restrict other essential needs such as food, utilities, education and transport)
- habitability (of premises to ensure physical safety, as well as protection from the elements and threats to health, including overcrowding, mold, etc.)
- accessibility (in order to meet the needs of marginalized groups such as people with disability)
- cultural adequacy (to encourage appropriate services for Indigenous, women, LGBTQI2S and other marginalized residents)
- location (close to employment opportunities, health services, schools, public transit, and other essential facilities).
It is important to ensure that there are adequate housing options for people that respect this criteria. Otherwise, their choice of housing may be a reflection of substandard conditions being the only other option.