Homelessness as a consequence and cause of modern slavery

31 Aug 2023

In April 2023, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery called for submissions on the issue of homelessness as a cause and consequence of contemporary form of slavery. The Mercy Foundation was one of many civil society organisations to provide input into the report.

The Special Rapporteur’s report was released in July and can be read here.

The report concludes that homelessness can significantly increase the risk of contemporary forms of slavery, placing persons experiencing homelessness at risk of recruitment and exploitation. Additionally, homelessness can be a consequence of contemporary forms of slavery, as survivors of modern slavery face many barriers in securing affordable, appropriate accommodation.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including

  • Enhance the understanding of the linkage between homelessness and contemporary forms of slavery, particularly among relevant public service and law enforcement agencies, ensuring data on the linkage is collected and updated;
  • properly identify trafficked and exploited persons experiencing homelessness as victims of contemporary slavery and extend protection without discrimination;
  • develop a rights-based approach to preventing and eliminating homelessness, including its causes and consequences;
  • regularly evaluate laws and policies on homelessness to test their appropriateness and effectiveness with regard to contemporary forms of slavery;
  • prevent and prohibit evictions leading to homelessness
  • establish support programs to ensure access to housing for persons leaving out of home care, hospitals, military service or prisons;
  • ensure swift access to long term affordable, safe and secure housing to persons experiencing homelessness;
  • provide equal access to essential services , including health care and social assistance, as well as access to justice and remedies for all persons experiencing homelessness, without discrimination;

Among the recommendations for civil society organisations, the Special Rapporteur recommends

  • enhance the understanding of the linkage between homelessness and contemporary forms of slavery through awareness raising, training, and conduct research and collect data on the linkage regularly,
  • the development of a clear and coherent synergy between strategies and measures to eliminate homelessness and contemporary forms of slavery,
  • regularly evaluate and report on the State’s efforts to prevent and eliminate homelessness and contemporary forms of slavery.