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Researching Women's Housing and Shelter Rights


This guide was created to assist researchers of housing and shelter rights for women at the Harvard Law School Library.

In general, the idea of the right to housing is comprised of four separate principles: (1) the right to shelter in general, (2) the right to affordable housing, (3) the right to housing that is habitable, and (4) the right to security of tenure.  

The following United Nations publications offer a general introduction to the idea of housing as a human right:

Accordingly, UN organizations that work on housing initiatives, such as UN-Habitat, are committed to gender equality and empowering women (  

This guide includes the following guidance for researchers:

  • Lists of organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe that research and advocate for housing rights
  • Suggestions for searching the Harvard Library catalog, HOLLIS, by relevant subject terms and keywords
  • A list of selected recent books on the topic
  • A list of selected scholarly articles on the topic, designed to inform researchers about a breadth of issues related to women's housing rights
  • Additional research materials

The law library's Research Services Team is happy to provide research assistance to Harvard Law School affiliates. Contact us by emailing

Research and Advocacy in the United States

Research and Advocacy in Canada

Research and Advocacy in Europe

Finding Library Materials Using HOLLIS

The Library of Congress has created a controlled vocabulary to describe subjects in catalog records for library materials.  Many catalog records in the Harvard Library HOLLIS catalog include these controlled, predefined vocabulary terms, which are called Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) (, in the Subject field.  Although there are also other lists of subject terms that catalogers also use, the LCSH list predominates in the HOLLIS catalog, especially in records for newer materials.

Below are links to some sample HOLLIS searches by subject, using LCSH and other predefined subject terms. There are also links to some general keyword searches, using particular terms of art that appear in the literature related to this topic.

Generally, the searches are meant to be quite broad. To limit the displayed search results, you can edit the search to add additional keywords, and/or you can use the limiting options on the right side of the HOLLIS search results screen.

Selected Scholarly Articles

Obviously there are many, many scholarly articles that address some aspect of women and the right to housing.  Below is a selection of recent articles about women and housing/shelter from a variety of disciplines.  They were selected to provide a wide view of relevant demographic and situational factors that could be useful in better understanding the issues and in formulating subsequent searches of the literature.

Additional Research Materials

Foreign Jurisdictions

If your research extends to foreign jurisdictions, the selected free and subscription resources listed below provide access to non-US legal primary and secondary sources.  If you are a Harvard Law School affiliated and need help accessing any of these sources, please contact the law library's Research Services Team at