On 1 November 2004, HIC-HLRN testified before the UN Working Group on People of African Descent (WGPAD). The testimony, which HIC-HLRN Coordinator Joseph Schechla presented, was accompanied by a paper: “Investing in Housing, and Racism, affecting people of African descent.” That paper is now available on the HLRN website at :
WGPAD is the body that UN General Assembly established on the basis of recommendations arising from the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia & Related Intolerance (Durban, South Africa, 25 August–7 September 2001). In its fourth session, 25 October–5 November 2004, WGPAD explored discrimination in employment, education and housing. Within the subject of housing, the WGPAD consultations covered (1) statistical and socioeconomic indicators in the field of housing, (2) equitable access to housing and (3) investment program undertaken in the housing sector.
The HIC-HLRN presentation introduced the applicable legal framework of the human right to housing and land, applying it to two country cases of people of African descent: the United States of America and Brazil. The HIC-HLRN presentation on housing investment trends affecting people of African descent in the USA focused especially on the effects of deep reductions in housing assistance to impoverished people in the country, disproportionately represented by African Americans, and the phenomenon of Black-American land loss, whereby Black farmers have lost 98% of their lands since 1920, largely due to direct and indirect forms of institutionalized discrimination. The inquiry demonstrated ways in which public and private investment have disadvantaged people of African descent in both housing and land in the United States.
The second part of the paper discusses the status of people of African descent in Brazil. It charts gradual measures