The Value of a Human Right to Housing Framework for Local Governments

April 26, 2022


ASL Interpreters will be present

In June 2019, the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) received Royal Ascension. For the first time in Canada’s history, the right to housing was enshrined in domestic legislation. Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy (NHS) preceded this historic Act. The NHS was a 10-year, $70 billion plan to reduce homelessness and housing need. The Canadian Government now recognizes that to address the housing crisis we need to change how we view housing. We need to see it as a human right, not a commodity.

To advance the right to adequate housing in Canada, all levels of government have a key role to play. Local governments are in a unique position because of how close they are to residents. They are also responsible for related programming and services. This includes housing and homelessness programs, leading urban planning, and enforcing building standards. In this presentation, Leilani Farha will explore the transformational human right to housing framework. She will discuss its implications for local governments like the City of Kitchener, who has adopted this framework.

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About the Speaker

Leilani Farha is the Global Director of The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing (2014- 2020). The Shift was launched in 2017 with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Government and works with multi-level stakeholders around the world including with several city governments in North America and Europe. Leilani’s work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity. She has helped develop global human rights standards on the right to housing, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She is the central character in the award-winning documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing, directed by the Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten. PUSH is screening around the world and to continue its momentum Leilani and Fredrik now co-host a podcast – PUSHBACK Talks - about finance, housing and human rights.

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Thank you to everyone who joined us for this five-part speaker series in 2022/2023. Together, we explored topics related to how we can make city infrastructure and services more equitable and accessible for all residents. The speaker series has now concluded. If you have any questions, please contact the Planning division at

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