What are the rights of homeless people and who must guarantee their full achievment?

What are the rights of homeless people and who must guarantee their full achievment?

By Arturo Soto y Victoria Villalobos

There are few people who, out of interest or necessity, know in depth the content of the Political Constitution of our country, and it is also not known that, by law, the rights of homeless people must be guaranteed. Particularly the following:

  • Education
  • Integration to the community
  • Training for employment and self-employment
  • Place to spend the night and shelter
  • Prevention and health monitoring 
  • Comprehensive routine and urgent medical care
  • Professional care of dependence on psychoactive substances.
  • Guidance on sexual and reproductive health.
  • Legal advice and representation.
  • A life free of violence.

What actions should the authority take to protect homeless people?

  • Prevent actions of seclusion (forced confinement) and forced displacement (eviction) from their living spaces without their conscious authorization.
  • Provide social care services that respect their human rights.

Government obligation

  • In accordance with the constitutional reform on human rights of 2011, all authorities are obliged to promote, respect, protect and guarantee the human rights contained in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States.
  • Establishing the rights of homeless people require the authorities to adopt actions that guarantee their protection, while preventing actions of:


-Forced displacement

-Rehabilitation treatment, internment in institutions or any other, without your authorization

  • As co-responsible within the regulatory framework for the promotion and protection of the rights of homeless people, all administrations must join in taking the necessary measures to guarantee:

-Their participation in the adoption of legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial and any other measures, to make their rights effective;

-The right to a life free from all types of violence or discrimination, motivated by their condition;

-The non-criminalization, repression or imprisonment, motivated by specific characteristics of their condition; 

-The ability to decide on their person and its assets, as well as for the exercise of your freedoms, independence, privacy, intimacy and personal autonomy.

What problems do they face in getting their human rights?

  • They do not have adequate access to health services, education, justice or the possibility of formal employment.
  • Many of them do not have identification documents, so they cannot easily access government services and programs.
  • They live in extreme poverty.
  • They are stigmatized and criminalized, which causes them to be discriminated against.
  • They are considered as objects of protection and not as subjects of law.
  • And their condition of vulnerability is affected when it is influenced by other factors such as gender, nationality, disability or advanced age

Likewise, the risks that a homeless person runs are multiple:

  • Hunger
  • Violence
  • Addictions to psychoactive substances

Existence in subhuman conditions that cause illness and premature death, often due to preventable causes. (DGCS UNAM, 2020).

Guaranteeing the full exercise of their rights is a joint task. The government, institutions and civil society must work so that people living on the streets have a dignified life free of violence. When one of the parties is not doing its job, it is up to Civil Society Organizations to intercede to stop the violence and discrimination of which street populations are victims.

Arturo Soto y Victoria Villalobos

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