Homeless Rights: A Call for Change

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Human rights, while broad in their universal definition, are distinctly identifiable when the absence of such rights threatens an individual’s quality of life or likelihood of survival. Social groups in the United States have historically organized and advocated for voting, property, social and political rights to achieve equality for marginalized populations. However, despite the long-standing history of homelessness in the United States, homeless populations are new to social and political conversations surrounding rights that promote their quality of life and increase their likelihood of sustained housing. Laws and norms referring to the homeless are generally restrictive and revolve around public ordinances, policing, and criminalization. Underlying social barriers such as stigmatization, the right to a permanent address, public space and personal property are also chronic barriers that perpetuate the condition of homelessness. This article compiles data and literature that outline the implications of these barriers and argues for a universal Homeless Bill of Rights specific to the condition of homelessness, including address rights, property rights, and decriminalization.


This article was researched and written when Francis Origanti was affiliated with Avila University.