Housing is a Human Right Resolution


Whereas, in 2009 in Dane County, 2,413 individuals in families were turned away from shelter, 92% of those were individuals with families. 94% of turned-away families were rejected due to lack of shelter space or lack of funds to pay for motel vouchers; and

Whereas these resource limitations mean families with children can only stay in shelter up to 90 days and have a 180 life-time limit; and

Whereas, in 2009, 29% of families and 30% of single women reported “the threat or fear of violence” as the reason they were seeking shelter; and

Whereas, in 2008, 776 children attending schools in Madison were homeless; and

Whereas homelessness impacts a disproportionate number of people of color in Dane County, with 71% in shelter identifying as non-white , 83% of families, 64% of single women, 54% of single men and 48% of unaccompanied youth identified as non-white and African Americans make up the largest minority group; and

Whereas, in the U.S., 20-40% homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ), while only 3-5% of the overall youth population identifies as LGBTQ; 44% of gay homeless youth are African-American and 26% of gay homeless youth identify are Latino; 62% of transgender youth homeless are African-American and 20% of transgender homeless youth are Latino; and LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be the victims of sexual crimes while homeless; and

Whereas in 2009, 69 persons in the Dane County shelter system were 62 years and older and AARP reports that in the U.S. in 2001, 18% of homeowners and 38% of renters over the age of 65 spent more than one half of their monthly income on housing; and

Whereas, in the U.S., the National Coalition for the Homeless recorded over a thousand incidents of crimes committed against homeless individuals due to the housed offender’s bias of the victim’s housing status between 1998-2009 and in 2009 alone, 43 homeless men and women lost their lives to such violence; and

Whereas, in 2007, the Dane County Enhanced Youth Gang Prevention Task Force, listed “accessible and affordable Housing” as one of their prevention strategies and recognized that “stable and affordable housing is foundational to family stability and gang prevention”; and

Whereas, in 2009, the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, reported “ex-offenders returning to the community after prison face great difficulty obtaining stable housing, employment, support, and treatment” which is “instrumental in avoiding re-incarceration”; and

Whereas, in 2009, the Dane County Task Force on Poverty’s 2009 report identified “seeking housing” as one of the underlying problems for Dane County citizens in poverty; and

Whereas, Madison Gas & Electric reports the rental vacancy rate for multi-family real estate in the Madison area for the 2nd quarter of 2011 is only 3.54%, which is down from 4.72% in 2010 and only half of what it was in 2005, resulting in rental prices increasing by 17.82% from May 2010 to May 2011; and

Whereas a Dane County renter making minimum wage would have to work 79 hours per week to afford rent for a 1 bedroom rental unit, 93 hours for a 2 bedroom and 125 for a 3 bedroom rental unit; an affordable rent amount for a Dane County renter whose sole source of income is SSI is $227, which is $515 less than the fair market rent for a one-bedroom unit; an affordable rent amount for a Dane County renter whose sole source of income is W-2 is $202, which is $675 less than the fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit; and 52% of Dane County renters are unable to afford a 2 bedroom unit at fair market rent; and

Whereas we are experiencing a national housing crisis due to a record number of mortgage foreclosures and an extreme shortage of affordable housing. The Madison area is no exception with a record number of foreclosures in 2010 and over 30% of Dane County homes in or near foreclosure in early 2011; and

Whereas federal funding for subsidized housing has plummeted in the last thirty years, from $80 billion in 1978 to $34 billion in 2006; and

Whereas the CDA waiting list for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rent assistance program has been closed since April 1, 2003 (when it only briefly opened up pursuant to a lottery system) and public housing waitlist times range from 12 months to over 3 years; and

Whereas, publicly subsidized redevelopment, blight elimination, and gentrification can cause a net reduction in low income housing units and displacement of low income tenants if adequate protections for those tenants and low income units are not put in place; and

Whereas our efforts to improve housing opportunity and tenant protection at the local level are under attack by our state legislature which seeks to preempt decades of our hard work on housing issues; and

Whereas, Dane County has made it illegal to discriminate against people in housing based on race, gender, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, marital status, family status, mental illness, physical condition, appearance, lawful source of income, student status, arrest/conviction record, sexual orientation, less than honorable discharge, political beliefs, and social security number disclosure, and the City of Madison has further protections in place based on domestic partner status; gender identity; genetic identity; citizenship status; and status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; and

Whereas, studies have documented the perception of discrimination among Latinos. In a 2008 Pew Hispanic Center survey, one in seven Latinos nationwide said they had trouble in the previous year finding or keeping a job because of their ethnicity. One in ten reported the same about finding or keeping housing; and

Whereas, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that among Latinos surveyed, 70% of Latinos nationwide said they have experienced racism in finding housing and another 20% were “unsure”; and

Whereas, immigrants are more likely to face barriers to enforcing their housing rights including language barriers, cultural mistrust, fear of government agencies, fear of retaliation, lack of familiarity with applicable laws, and lack of familiarity with judicial and administrative procedures for enforcing their rights; and

Whereas unstable housing causes children to suffer from slowed development, emotional problems, and underachievement in education; and

Whereas the Commission on People with Disabilities has identified increased development of accessible housing as a priority; and

Whereas studies have shown that the most important piece of a person getting stabilized from struggles with employment, addiction, mental health issues, and physical health, is by having stable long-term housing as a first step; and

Whereas unemployment and poverty are systemic problems, and individuals should not be blamed for the lack of income or stability to maintain housing; and

Whereas, in 2006, the Dane County Homeless Services Consortium developed a Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in Dane County; and

Whereas the U.S. has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), giving it the force of law, which protects individuals from discrimination based on property and economic status; and

Whereas, African-Americans make up 50% of the U.S. homeless population but only represent 12% of the total population and the UN Human Rights Committee has asked our government to take “adequate and adequately implemented” measures to remedy this human rights abuse; and

Whereas the U.S. has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which requires the government to eliminate all racially discriminatory effects of government laws and rules; and

Whereas, the City of Madison as a recipient of federal funds for housing and development, has an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing; and

Whereas the United States has signed onto the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including….housing…”; and

Whereas the human right to housing includes legal security of tenure, availability of services and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location, and cultural adequacy; and

Whereas we join the efforts of Washington D.C., Cook County, IL, Minneapolis, New York City and Los Angeles to recognize and progressively realize the human right to housing at the local level.

Now Therefore be it resolved that housing be recognized as a human right and that all people who desire a place of shelter and stable long-term housing be prioritized to have this basic need met both temporarily and permanently. In doing so, the City of Madison recommits to the goals in its comprehensive plan that call for the availability of safe, decent and sanitary and distinctive housing for all residents as well as the objectives and policies that accompany that goal. The City of Madison also recommits to the goals and objectives in the Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in Dane County; and

Be it further resolved that the City of Madison Housing Committee and the County Health and Human Needs Committee provide an annual report by July 1 of each year that tracks and assesses the affordable and accessible housing needs in Dane County by community;

Be it further resolved that the City of Madison will initiate the process of developing a Housing Plan with the County Health and Human Needs Committee with recommendations by July 1, 2012 for strategies to provide those housing units and shelter beds in those communities at appropriate affordability levels, including ensuring that enough accessible housing is available and consider creating a staff position that will be responsible for housing policy; and

Be it further resolved that the City of Madison and Dane County will explore creative uses of the public (ex. TIF, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, federal, state and local government funds) and private dollars to increase the level of available affordable housing, accessible housing, and shelter beds as identified in the plan above, achieve a one-to-one replacement of affordable housing removed from the community; and ensure relocation costs or the right to return for those displaced; and

Be it further resolved that the issues and solutions contained in the Peoples Affordable Housing Vision will be reviewed and considered for incorporation into the Housing Plan; and

Be it further resolved that the Housing Plan will include recommendations of policies to prevent foreclosures, evictions, criminalization of homelessness and to help stabilize people in their housing; and

Be it further resolved that the Housing Plan will affirmatively further fair housing as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and

Be it further resolved that the Housing Plan will primarily make recommendations based on the current housing market conditions, but will not overlook issues that may face the City if the market changes; and

Be it finally resolved that the City of Madison will work in partnership with Dane County; surrounding municipalities; and community partners to develop the Housing Plan and address housing issues in the region.


Annual Report on Homeless Served in Dane County, City of Madison Community Development Division (2009) <http://www.cityofmadison.com/cdbg/docs/homeless_rpts/2009AnnualHomelessReport.pdf>

Dane County Task Force on Poverty Report to the County Board, Nov. 5, 2009 <http://pdf.countyofdane.com/commissions/Task_Force_on_Poverty_Report.pdf&gt;

Final Report, Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, Sept. 2009


Final Report, Dane County Enhanced Youth Gang Prevention Task Force, Sept. 2007 <http://www.danecountyhumanservices.org/pdf/gang_task_force_report.pdf&gt;

A report on the effects of the “Baby Boomer” generation and how this will influence the social,

economic, community and political developments to come, Dane County Task Force on Aging


Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in Dane County, Dane County Homeless Services

Consortium, April 2006 <http://www.cityofmadison.com/cdbg/docs/community_plan_to_end_homelessness_final.pdf>

City of Madison Comprehensive Plan, 2006 <http://www.cityofmadison.com/planning/ComprehensivePlan/adoptedplan.cfm&gt;

Dane County Comprehensive Plan, 2007 <http://www.daneplan.org/plan.shtml&gt;

Rivedal, K., Property Trax: Average price for Madison apt rentals rose nearly 18 percent year-over-year in May new survey finds, Wisconsin State Journal, June 29, 2011 <http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/real-estate/article_06feb2ee-a1d0-11e0-90c6-001cc4c03286.html&gt;

Out of Reach 2011: Renters Await the Recovery, National Low Income Housing Coalition, June 2011

<http://www.nlihc.org/oor/oor2011/data.cfm?getstate=on&getmsa=on&msa=560&getcounty=on&county=3105&state=WI&gt; (URL for Dane County/Madison FMA Data)

Simply Unacceptable”: Homelessness and the Human Right to Housing in the United States 2011, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, June 2011.

< http://www.nlchp.org/content/pubs/SimplyUnacceptableReport1.pdf&gt;

Ray, N., Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and National Coalition of the Homeless, 2006

< http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/HomelessYouth.pdf>

Hate Crimes against the Homeless: Americans Growing Tide of Violence. National Coalition for the Homeless, August 2010. < <http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/hatecrimes/hatecrimes2009.pdf&gt;

Beyond 50 2003: A Report to the Nation on Independent Living and Disability,

American Association of Retired People (AARP), Washington, DC, 2006


Southern Poverty Law Center, Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South, Hostility, April 2009


Levy, Diane K., et al., In the Face of Gentrification: Case Studies of Local Efforts to Mitigate Displacement, Urban Institute, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Washington D.C., 2006. <http://www.urban.org/UplodedPDF/411294_gentrification.pdf&gt;


About Operation Welcome Home

OWH is a group of homeless people in Madison, WI and their allies organizing around the root causes of homelessness- racism, poverty, and criminalization. We are fighting for housing, jobs, and an end to the criminalization of poverty.

Posted on August 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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