Special Report on „Right to adequate housing”
On March 9, 2015, the Public Defender presented a special report on “the right to adequate housing”. The report discusses systemic and individual problems existing on legislative and practical levels that were identified as a result of studying of applications received by the Public Defender’s Office with regards to provision of housing to homeless persons.
The Public Defender of Georgia believes that steps taken by the state at this stage are not enough to overcome homelessness in the country and development of a state policy and conduction of active work on its further implementation are necessary.
For realization of an effective legislative system of protection of homeless persons it is necessary to determine the legal status of homeless persons. Additionally, it is important to strictly specify obligations of central and local authorities at the legislative level and the scope of their activity, to define mechanisms, procedures and timeframes for cooperation between them. With regards to keeping database of the homeless, purpose of the above obligations and package of measures to be implemented by authority bodies after their elaboration, should be also determined.
For the purpose of realizations of tasks based on the right to adequate housing reflected in the Georgian National Strategy on Human Rights, it is necessary to elaborate an action plan and a housing strategy where concrete actions, appropriate resources, responsible bodies and timeframes ensuring realization of the set goals, will be defined.
The Public Defender expressed hope that processes initiated with the view of realization of the right to adequate housing will be irreversible. And, first of all, the Georgian National Action Plan on Human Rights would have concrete measures specified for elimination of homelessness and providing for the right to access adequate housing.
“To this day, in the country, there is no regional or centralized, general database of homeless persons; there is no effective mechanism for provision of legal safeguards for homeless persons on the legislative level. Therefore, by the current legal regulations homeless persons have no access even to those minimal benefits that exist for the socially vulnerable”, - said the Public Defender at the opening of the event.
Human Rights Attaché of the EU Delegation to Georgia Eva Pastrana spoke about obligations of the Government of Georgia with regards to providing decent housing for persons without shelter, as well as support of the European Union in issues connected to resolution of this problem.
Deputy Public Defender Natia Katsitadze discussed the issue of the definition and necessity to study causes for homelessness.
Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Aluda Goglichidze briefly reviewed work undertaken by Tbilisi City Hall towards resolving the problem of the homeless, as well as their future plans. He noted that construction of a multi-story building where homeless persons living in tents at the moment will be settled, has already started in Tbilisi, on the territory of Lilo.
Deputy Chairman of Tbilisi City Council Giorgi Alibegashvili mentioned that there were cases when homeless persons refused to settle in accommodation outside Tbilisi and they only wanted to be provided with housing in the capital city. This, due to the current state of resources, considerably delays settlement of the problem.
According to information of a representative of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, work on issues of the definition of the homeless has already started in the ministry.
At the discussion, it became apparent that necessity to adopt relevant legislative regulation, develop criteria for identification of persons devoid of housing and create comprehensive database is especially acute.
In his special report, the Public Defender issues recommendations to the Government of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, also local self-governing authorities. Among these recommendations are:
To the Government of Georgia
- For the purpose of realization of tasks based on the right to adequate housing stipulated in the Georgian National Strategy on Human Rights (2014-2020), to develop the action plan and the housing strategy where concrete measures, responsible bodies and timeframes ensuring implementation of the set goals, will be specified;
To the Government of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia
- To conduct correction and improvement of the definition of the homeless person in order for it to encompass various forms of homelessness; for the purpose of identification of the scale of homelessness across the country, to conduct monitoring of realization of the right to adequate housing and to create general database of homeless persons. The acquired data to be used for elaboration of the strategy and the action plan necessary to eliminate homelessness.
- With regards to homeless persons, to specify obligations and purpose of central and local authorities at the legislative level, including mechanisms, procedures and timeframes of coordination.