Pittsburgh Human Rights Housing Strategy

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Pittsburgh Human Rights Housing Strategy

In April 2022, Pittsburgh welcomed global housing expert, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha to meet with city officials, housing advocates, students and other residents. She pointed out that Pittsburgh’s development is being driven by increasingly global real estate investors and developers, who seek only to generate profits—not to ensure safe and adequate housing for Pittsburgh residents. To address our housing crisis, we need to develop a human rights-based housing strategy for Pittsburgh. This will require strong political leadership by and on behalf of residents and the city of Pittsburgh that syncs housing supply with residents’ needs and incomes. Whoever leads these decisions determines who can live and thrive here. We are working to build community control over our city’s housing policies.

Ms. Farha's visit generated a set of recommendations for how we can work to improve access to affordable housing in Pittsburgh and ward off new threats to existing affordable housing. We compiled this report on the visit, highlighting insights and recommendations from our discussions with Ms. Farha, who now leads global housing rights organization, The Shift. Here you’ll also find helpful links to learning resources and legal tools to help advance housing as a human right. (Download report PDF)

  • Housing Strategy and Action Plan Ideas View and share ideas our community activists are generating as we build a resident-led conversation about our city's housing strategy. What should it look like? How can we build public awareness and support for people-centered housing?
  • Regional Housing Legal Services Concept Paper on Home Rule Charter Amendment-This document argues for efforts to reverse state policy that limits the ability of Pittsburgh's elected officials to regulate private actors who play key roles in shaping urban development and our access to affordable housing. Such authority is key to reversing racial inequities and ongoing displacement of housing insecure residents.

Resources for developing a rights-based housing strategy

  • Existing models of municipal human rights-based housing strategies:
  • Fair Housing Audit Identifying housing needs, existing infrastructure, and property ownership is a key piece of our work.
Full Study – The Financialization of Housing In Europe “My Home Is An Asset Class” Daniela Gabor & Sebastian Kohl

Critiques of Market-Driven Housing are becoming more mainstream

  • Our Government Runs an Eviction Machine to Benefit Landlords—Let’s Pump the Brakes Fran Quigley, July 3, 2023 Commondreams.org Our state and local governments together operate a massive, ruthlessly efficient collection and repossession machine for the benefit of landlords.
  • Social Housing: How a New Generation of Activists Is Reinventing Housing Shelterforce June 30, 2023. Not so long ago, social housing was rarely discussed in the U.S. Today. there are over a dozen social housing campaigns across the country.
  • Rise of the ‘SHIMBY’? New Report Outlines Steps to Social Housing David Brand, November 1, 2022, CityLimits, A new report describes the path to social housing in New York through 20 policy proposals, from overhauling the property tax code and abolishing the city’s tax lien sale to cracking down on landlord violations and boosting public funding for tenant organizing. (new report from the Community Service Society (CSS, a City Limits funder), co-authored by policy experts from the City Comptroller’s Office and University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), outlines how the city can pursue a path to social housing through 20 policy proposals —from overhauling the property tax code and abolishing the city’s tax lien sale to cracking down on landlord violations and boosting public funding for tenant organizing.)