Discrimination in housing is a serious obstacle to social justice and social progress. Such discrimination may originate either in law or in practice and, in either case, may be direct or indirect in nature. The right to housing occupies a key position among the fundamental human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The realization of this right is, however, fraught with difficulties. Housing problems largely attributable to scarcity of inadequacy of resources arise in all parts of the world, causing deficiencies in quantity and quality, particularly in areas of high population growth. When, due to underemployment or growing unemployment in rural areas, there is a mass exodus from the affected areas to the urban centres, existing shortages in those centres become extreme and, at the same time, available facilities within the reach of the new arrivals fall even further short of minimum safety standards and health requirements.
Although legally guaranteed equality in housing, many Aboriginal Australians live in inadequate shelters, due to their deprived socio-economic circumstances which prevent them from acquiring lands or homes in the normal way. These circumstances tend to make Aboriginals unwelcome neighbours in many parts of the general community, resulting in the emergence of Aboriginal slums in most large cities. In South Africa, the government discriminates against, Bantus and other non-whites by "legal" means such as "Black spot", squatter, and group area removals, all of which remove peoples from their homes without possible resistance and retaliation, as the government has decreed resistance to be illegal.
The status of illegality is frequently conferred on those inadequately housed. Such persons might inhabit houses built contrary to building codes and zoning laws; they might be living on illegal land plots; they might make their living in the unrecognized informal sector and might be working without permits; their children are often not formally registered at birth. There is no implication that these persons are criminals. It is a question of circumstance and a lack of viable legal option. Such options would be greeted with open arms if available. Until laws which force millions of people into the margins of illegality are reformed, there is little chance that human rights or housing rights will mean anything to them and their communities.