Chicago Journal of International Law

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International law recognizes a right to adequate housing. Affordability is one component of this right, and it is increasingly unrealized in highly concentrated cities in advanced economies. The prevailing approach to the right to adequate housing is the human rights approach, which favors government involvement in the market to reduce housing prices, for example, via rentcontrol regulations and policies that limit the use of housing as primarily an investment. This Comment notes that this approach misses the critical fact that governments are already involved in the housing market through the imposition of zoning laws. It suggests that an economic approach, which sees lack of affordability as a problem of supply and demand, is better suited to identifying obstacles to and solutions for the realization of the affordability component of the right to adequate housing. This Comment calls on the U.N. to recognize this approach and use its resources to support states’ implementation of solutions that either decrease housing demand, for example, by restricting foreign residential real estate investment, or increase housing supply, for example, by reforming zoning regulations.

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