When people think of rights, we tend to think of them as something intrinsic, that rights are an a-priori fact that comes along with being human.

The rights that we in the western world entrench into law tend to be rights that keep the state or other citizens from harming individuals.

When you think about rights like Freedom of Belief or Freedom of Expression, these rights are not really permission for people to think or believe what they like, it’s not an obligation that society or the government has to individual people either. It’s a limit on what the state or other people can do to you: no one can tell you what to think or what to believe.

If we accept that shelter is a basic human right, it’s a different kind of right. It imposes an obligation on society.

If we are to take housing seriously as a human right, society needs to pro-actively ensure that everyone has access to it. It is more like the right to health care that we enjoy as Canadians.

Taxpayer money is being spent on policing and on health care that would not be necessary if everyone had adequate housing. Not only is housing each person what a just society should provide for its citizens, it is also the most socially responsible thing to do.

We believe that a right to housing imposes an obligation on architects too. We are happy to be working with two clients on projects to house some of our most vulnerable citizens

Waymark Architecture is a collaborative, expertise driven practice that is informed by science, ethics, and the arts. We are committed to architecture’s potential to contribute to positive change.

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