The human right to housing and community empowerment: home occupation, eviction defence and community land trusts
1092 - 1109
Third World Quarterly
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Critics of human rights are hesitant to reject them outright for fear of undermining the work they may do in resisting oppression. This pragmatic justification is central to celebrations of human rights as well, but is it more than a failure to move beyond liberal hegemony? I argue that human rights have radical potential because the act of claiming such rights uses the ambiguous but universal identity of ‘humanity’ to make claims on the established terms of legitimate authority. The potential of human rights to fight for social change is examined by looking at the movement for a human right to housing in the USA. I explore how homeless individuals, public housing tenants and low-income urban residents realise their human right to housing through eviction defences, the occupation of ‘people-less’ homes, and attempts to remake the structure of home ownership through community land trusts.