Promoting Human Rights Development

Land is a unique resource, limited in its supply but endless in its variety of uses. All human activity occurs on and is dependent upon land. Our land use policy has yet to grapple with the tension between land as a private commodity and land as a resource to meet community need.  Current approaches to development, in particular, have fueled a frenzied level of economic speculation regarding land and housing with devastating impacts on communities of color suffering from both displacement and blight. 

For example, “gentrification” is often the result of re-development. Social investments – from public subsidies and community organization – are made to improve a neighborhood, such as a new park, better schools, improved infrastructure, which increases the desirability of the neighborhood. As land values rise, private landowners raise rents and sell higher, higher-income residents move-in and low-income residents are out-priced and displaced, and outside investors are attracted to the quick profits that can be made buying and selling land (and the housing, commercial space, etc. on top).

The allocation and cost of land has a direct impact on the realization of housing rights, including access to affordable basic and housing, which is intractably linked to access to good jobs and schools, other public services and social networks.  NESRI works with communities to advance a human rights-based approach to development that seeks to prioritize the use of land towards community needs and ensuring these basic rights. 

Specifically, through disseminating models of development that increase shared equity and community control, penalize or tax speculation, and work to ensure capital remains in local communities, NESRI seeks to build new frameworks where all communities, regardless of wealth, can live in stable neighborhoods, own homes, and have control over the decisions that shape their lives.