All young people have a fundamental, legal right to be free of homelessness and to have access to adequate housing.
Youth homelessness is a pressing issue worldwide that requires urgent attention. To help address the issue, a collaborative group of organizations from Canada and Europe have developed Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide for grounding strategies to end youth homelessness in international human rights law.
This webinar will present a background on youth human rights and discuss the elements of a rights approach. Ms. Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, and Dr. Naomi Nichols, of McGill University, will also address questions on using a human rights approach to addressing homelessness.
About the panelists
Leilani Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups. In Canada, Ms. Farha worked on housing rights issues as the Executive Director of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA). In that capacity, she helped to launch a historic legal challenge seeking the implementation of UN recommendations for addressing homelessness as a violation of human rights. In her current work she continues to promote a human rights based approach to poverty.
Ms. Farha is known as a dynamic and effective advocate for economic, social and cultural rights and for promoting legal protection and access to justice for these rights. She has researched and published widely on issues related to housing rights, including on forced evictions, securing land rights for indigenous peoples, and housing indigenous peoples in cities. As a central dimension in all her activities, she has worked extensively on women’s economic, social and cultural rights, playing a pivotal role in raising awareness about the gender dimensions of these rights. Ms. Farha was also a founding member of the ESCR-Net – an international network of organizations committed to economic, social and cultural rights.
Naomi Nichols is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University. She is also the Principal Investigator for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project titled, Schools, Safety, and the Urban Neighbourhood. Prior to joining the Faculty of Education at McGill, Nichols completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University. The Fellowship focused on knowledge mobilization, research impact, and cross-sectoral responses to youth homelessness. Since completing her Ph.D., Nichols has worked as the Applied Social Scientist in the Learning Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children, a Research Associate and Sessional Instructor in the Faculty of Education at York University and an Adjunct Professor in the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education Program. Her research activities and publications span the areas of youth homelessness; youth justice; alternative education and safe schools; inter-organizational relations in the youth sector; “youth at risk;” and community-academic research collaborations. In 2014, the University of Toronto Press published her first book: Youth Work: An institutional ethnography of youth homelessness.