A new report released by the California Right to Housing Working Group (ACLU California Action, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, National Homelessness Law Center, Western Center on Law and Poverty) lays out how including the right to housing to California’s constitution could fundamentally shift housing policy in the state and address the housing and homelessness crisis at its root cause.
California is at the epicenter of houselessness crisis in the United States. Over half of the
nation’s unsheltered people and a quarter of all unhoused people live in California, despite the
fact that California residents make up only 12% of the nation’s population. This is largely due
to the state’s skyrocketing housing costs, lack of affordable housing, and stagnating wages. The
burdens of California’s affordable housing shortage and resulting houselessness crisis raise grave
humanitarian concerns and fall disproportionately on Black and Brown residents.
As this report demonstrates, enshrining a fundamental right to housing in the California
Constitution is a necessary step to effectively address the growing housing crisis at the
state level. Guaranteeing every person the right to housing provides an important government
obligation and legal tool to ensure that Californians have access to affordable and adequate
housing. This rights-based approach is supported by a rich body of international human rights law
and will bolster California’s existing Housing First policy, based on decades of empirical evidence
that houselessness is most effectively remedied by access to permanent and stable housing, with
minimal requirements for entry.