Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-4wks4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-31T01:22:04.544Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

4 - Demolishing Housing Rights in the Name of Market Fundamentalism: The Dynamics of Displacement in the United States, India, and South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

Lanse Minkler
University of Connecticut
Get access



The right to housing is recognized as a fundamental human right within the international human rights system, initially adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as an essential aspect of an adequate standard of living, and reaffirmed in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976. However, as is the case with most rights, housing rights violations occur throughout the world. These violations include, inter alia, homelessness, forced eviction, demolition of shacks, lack of adequate low-income housing supply, and so forth (UN-HABITAT 2009). An evolving jurisprudence intended to address these violations has developed in a number of countries (UN-HABITAT 2002). Although the right to housing is no different from a jurisprudential perspective than other human rights – insofar as, to fully realize a right to housing, there must be universal access that is adequate and afforded to all without discrimination – on a practical level, housing poses a particular set of challenges to which human rights law and policy work are currently limited in their ability to respond.

Housing situations may differ across regions, countries, provinces, states, cities and towns, but most places have at least two things in common. First, the poor encounter both the greatest barriers to accessing adequate housing, as well as the greatest tenure insecurity and instability (i.e., the most forced displacement) (Advisory Group on Forced Evictions [AGFE] 2007). Second, unlike in education and health care, for example, there are few if any publicly designed or regulated comprehensive national systems for housing that ensure decent access and stability for all. Formal, lawfully occupied housing is primarily market based, with some supplementary government housing for poor and eligible members of society. As a result, housing is often an object of investment as much as a home or a part of a community. Although informal settlements exist, there is generally little if any legal protection extended by the state to “unlawful” occupiers; even within the formal market, security of tenure varies based on an occupant's status as an “owner” or “renter.”

The State of Economic and Social Human Rights
A Global Overview
, pp. 86 - 116
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


AGFE (Advisory Group on Forced Evictions), 2007. Finding solutions to forced evictions worldwide: A priority to meet the MDGs and implement the Habitat Agenda. Executive Summary Report of AGFE to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT.Google Scholar
Alexander, Frank S., 2005. Land Bank Authorities: A Guide to the Creation and Operation of Local Land Banks. Local Initiatives Support Corporation.Google Scholar
Benjaminsen, Lars and Dyb, Evelyn, 2008. “The Effectiveness of Homeless Policies – Variations among the Scandinavian Countries,” European Journal of Homelessness 2: 45–68.Google Scholar
Black, Curtis, 2011. “Residents Fight Cabrini Rowhouse Evictions,” Newstips. Retrieved from .
Carty, Anthony, 2008. “Marxism and International Law: Perspectives for the American (Twenty-First) Century?” in Marks, Susan R. (Ed.) International Law on the Left: Reexamining Marxist Legacies, 169–198, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Centre for Development and Human Rights, 2010. Rights and Development Bulletin 14.
Christie, Les, 2011. “11% of all U.S. Homes are Vacant,” CNN Money. Retrieved from .
Cirkovic, Ivana and Terzic, Biserka, 2010. “Recognizing Homelessness in the Republic of Serbia.” Paper for Peer Review on Building a Comprehensive and Participative Strategy on Homelessness, Portugal, November 4–5.
COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions), 2000. Legal Resources for Housing Rights: International Law and National Standards. Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from .Google Scholar
COHRE, 2002. Forced Evictions: Violations of Human Rights. Global Survey 8.
CRNHR (Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights), 2011. “USA, 250,000 Empty Public Properties Should Be Used to Address the Housing Crisis.” Truthout, September 29. Retrieved from .
D’Monte, Darryl, 2004. “Banning the Majority from Voting,” InfoChange. Retrieved from .
Dreier, Peter, 2006. “Federal Housing Subsidies: Who Benefits and Why?” in Bratt, Rachel G., Stone, Michael, and Hartman, Chester (Eds.) A Right to Housing: Foundation for a New Social Agenda, 105–133, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
Dugard, Jackie and Tissington, Kate, 2011. “In Defence of the ConCourt,” The Star. Retrieved from .
Fischer, Paul, 2003. Where are the Public Housing Families Going? An Update. Unpublished report, January 21.
Fishbein, Allen and Harold, Bunce, 2005. Subprime Market Growth and Predatory Lending: Housing Policy in the New Millennium, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Report from the Office of Policy Development and Resources. Retrieved from .Google Scholar
Fleming, David, 2008. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America, New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
Fullerton, Ian, 2011. “Cabrini Target Reveals Design,” Skyline. Retrieved from .
Fullilove, Mindy, 2004. Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurt America and What We Can Do About It, New York: One World/Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
Ghertner, D. Asher, 2008. “Analysis of the New Legal Discourse Behind Delhi's Slum Demolitions,” Economic and Political Weekly 43(20): 57–66.Google Scholar
Goodman, Laurie F., 2011. Amherst Securities. Testimony to the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, September 20. Retrieved from .
Greene, Matthew H., 2008. “The HOPE VI Paradox: Why Do HUD's Most Successful Housing Developments Fail to Benefit the Poorest of the Poor?” Journal of Law and Policy 17(1): 191–229.Google Scholar
Higgott, Richard and Weber, Heloise, 2005. “GATS in Context: Development, An Evolving Lex Mercatoria and the Doha Agenda,” Review of International Political Economy, 12(3): 434–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
HUD (Housing and Urban Development), 2012. Resident Characteristics Reports. Select “all relevant characteristics,” then “national.” Retrieved from .
IPS (Institute for Policy Studies Working Group on Housing with Dick Cluster), 1989. The Right to Housing: A Blueprint for Housing the Nation, Washington, DC: Community Economics Inc.Google Scholar
Jervis, Rick, 2011. “Crime Still Dogs New Orleans,” USA Today. Retrieved from .
Katakam, Anupama, 2005. “For a New Mumbai, At Great Cost,” Frontline 22(2): 15–28. Retrieved from .Google Scholar
Kearns, Ade, Hiscock, Rosemary, Ellaway, Anne, and Macintyre, Sally, 2000. “‘Beyond Four Walls’–The Psycho-Social Benefits of Home: Evidence from West Central Scotland,” Housing Studies 15(3): 387–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kenna, Padraic, 2008. “Globalization and Housing Rights,” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 15(2): 397–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kothari, Miloon, 2006. “Statement by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living to the World Urban Forum III (19–23 June 2006) in Vancouver,” June 20. Retrieved from .
Levy, Diane, Comey, Jennifer, and Padilla, Sandra, 2006. In the Face of Gentrification: Case Studies of Local Efforts to Mitigate Displacement, Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
Mahmud, Tayyab, 2010. “‘Surplus Humanity’ and the Margins of Legality: Slums, Slumdogs, and Accumulation by Dispossession,” Chapman Law Review 14: 1–73.Google Scholar
McKinsey & Company, 2003. Vision Mumbai – Transforming Mumbai into a World-Class City: A Summary of Recommendations. Bombay First – McKinsey Report. Retrieved from .Google Scholar
Mukhija, Vinit, 2001. “Enabling Slum Redevelopment in Mumbai: Policy Paradox in Practice,” Housing Studies 18(4): 213–222.Google Scholar
National Housing Law Project, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Sherwood Research Associates, and Everywhere and Now Public Housing Residents Organizing Nationally Together, 2002. False Hope: A Critical Assessment of the Hope VI Public Housing Redevelopment Program. Retrieved from .
Ngwabi, S.S.F., 2009. “Urban Regeneration and Private Sector Investment: Exploring Private Sector Perception of Urban Regeneration Initiatives in the Johannesburg Inner City,” ch. 5 in unpublished PhD Thesis, Pretoria: Pretoria University.
Peter, Oberlander H, 1985. “Land: The Central Human Settlement Issue,” Human Settlement Issues 7. Centre for Human Settlements, University of British Columbia.
Office of the President National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, 1998. “Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 8371, Otherwise Known as ‘The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.’” Administrative Order No. 1.
Olick, Diana, 2012. “Government Set to Sell Foreclosures in Bulk,” CNBC, January 9.
Önis, Ziya and Güven, Ali Burak, 2010. “The Global Economic Crisis and the Future of Neoliberal Globalization: Rupture versus Continuity,” in Koç University GLODEM Working Paper. Retrieved from .
Peet, Richard and Hartwick, Elaine, 2009. Theories of Development: Arguments, Contentions, Alternatives, 2nd edition, New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Peterson, David, 1997. “A Great Chicago Land Grab,” Z Magazine. Retrieved from .
Peterson, George E., 2006. Land Leasing and Land Sale as an Infrastructure-Financing Option. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4043. Retrieved from sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=940509.
Popkin, Susan J., Katz, Bruce, Cunningham, Mary K, Brown, Karen D, Gustafson, Jeremy, and , Margery A. Turner, , 2004. A Decade of HOPE: Research Questions and Policy Challenges, Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. Retrieved from .Google Scholar
Ramanathan, Usha, 2006. “Illegality and the Urban Poor,” Economic and Political Weekly, July 22: 3193–3197.
Rogal, Brian J., 2007. “CHA Families Exit as Eviction Threat Grows,” The Chicago Reporter. Retrieved from .
Salama, Jerry J., 1999. “The Redevelopment of Distressed Public Housing: Early Results from HOPE VI Projects in Atlanta, Chicago and San Antonio,” Housing and Policy Debate 10(1): 95–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schloemer, Ellen, Wei, Li, Keith, Ernst, and Kathleen, Keest, 2006. Losing Ground: Foreclosures in the Subprime Market and Their Cost to Homeowners. Center for Responsible Lending, December, 7. Retrieved from .
Silva, Cristina, 2011. “Speculative Investors Played Larger Role Than Thought in Driving Housing Bubble, Report Finds,” The Huffington Post. Retrieved from .
Steinberg, Stephen, 2010. “The Myth of Concentrated Poverty,” in Hartman, Chester and Squires, Gregory D. (Eds.) The Integration Debate: Competing Futures for American Cities, 213–223, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Stodghill, Ron, 1998. “In the Line of Fire,” Time Magazine. Retrieved from ,9171,988191,00.html.
Stone, Michael, 2010. “The Foundations of a Housing Crisis: How Did We Get Here?” in Niedt, Christopher and Silver, Marc (Eds.) Forging a New Housing Policy: Opportunity in the Wake of Crisis, 6–11, New York: Hofstra University.Google Scholar
Terry, Don, 2010. “The Final Farewell at Cabrini Green,” New York Times. Retrieved from .
Tissington, Kate, 2008. “Challenging Inner City Evictions Before the Constitutional Court of South Africa: The Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road Case,” Housing & ESC Rights Law Quarterly 5(2): 5.Google Scholar
Tissington, Kate and Wilson, Stuart, 2011. “SCA Upholds Rights of Urban Poor in Blue Moonlight Judgment,” ESR Review 12(2): 3. Retrieved from centre Scholar
UN-HABITAT, 2002. Housing Rights Legislation: Review of International and National Legal Instruments. United Nations Housing Rights Program. Report No. 1 (HS/638/01 E).
UN-HABITAT, 2009. Right to Adequate Housing, Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.
UN-HABITAT, 2011. Losing Your Home: Assessing the Impact of Eviction. Retrieved from .
Venkatesh, Sudhir and Celimli, Isil, 2004. “Tearing Down the Community,” National Housing Institute. Issue No. 138, November/December. Retrieved from .
Werbach, Adam, 2011. “How a Classic Model of Social Commerce Can Teach the World How to Save,” The Guardian. Retrieved from .
Whiting, Dominic, 2008. “India's Slum Dwellers Face Ruin in Development Blitz,” Reuters. Retrieved from .
Wilen, William, 2006. “The Horner Model: Successfully Redeveloping Public Housing,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy 1(1): 62–95.Google Scholar
Wilson, Stuart, 2006. “Human Rights and Market Values: Affirming South Africa's Commitment to Socio-economic Rights,” in Centre for Applied Legal Studies Newsletter 6.
Wilson, Stuart, 2011. “Litigating Housing Rights in Johannesburg's Inner City: 2004–2008,” South African Journal on Human Rights 27: 132–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zelinsky, Edward A., 2002. “The Once and Future Property Tax: A Dialogue with My Younger Self,” Cardozo Law Review 23: 2199–2221.Google Scholar
Silva, () cites Chicago Fact Book Consortium (1963), Local Community Fact Book Chicago Metropolitan Area 1960 (U. of Ill. Chicago ed., 1963)
The National Housing Law Project et al. (2002) in False HOPE published a critical assessment of the HOPE VI program, finding that it “worsened affordable housing needs.”
Gautreaux v Chicago Housing Authority Civ. A. No. 66 C 1459 (1969)
Hills v Gautreaux 425 U.S. 284 (1976)
Cabrini-Green Loc. Advisory Council v. Chicago Housing Authority, No. 04 C 3792 (N.D. Ill., 2008)
Cabrini-Green Loc. Advisory Council v. Chicago Housing Authority. No. 96 C 6949 (N.D. Ill., 1997)
Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road, Berea Township and 197 Main Street, Johannesburg v City of Johannesburg and Others 2008 (3) SA 208 (CC)
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd and Another 2012 (2) SA 104 (CC)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats