Housing Justice Press StatementHJ Logo

Homelessness is a problem for the whole community and requires a response that involves the whole community?

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne was unveiling his latest Budget in the House of Commons this lunchtime, a Parliamentary Reception
to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Catholic Housing Aid Society was being held
in the House of Lords. 
Following an announcement in the Budget that this Government has pledged to nearly 110 million pounds to support those who are homeless and other agencies, Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice said:

"As Chief Executive of Housing Justice, I welcome the sentiments expressed by the Chancellor today. 
It feels very right for us to be holding a Reception to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Catholic Housing Aid Society today in the House of Lords as George Osborne is giving his budget speech in the Other Place.

Measures to tackle homelessness, especially here in London, have been widely trailed in recent days. More money to tackle homelessness has to be a good thing. Of course the devil will be in the detail and the proof in the eating of the pudding.

As we welcome the Chancellor’s apparent realisation that something needs to be done to help people who are a long way from being able to take advantage of home ownership deals, we at Housing Justice will be watching what happens carefully so that our supporters in churches can hold him to account, ensuring that the promised funds are delivered.

We will also need to make sure that the 2,000 plus shelter guests are among those who benefit from the new accommodation that will be available. At the moment many things are only available to homeless people who have been through the hostel system, processed by what some call the homelessness industry. Our shelter guests should not need to face the dangers of institutionalisation in order to be helped.  Church and Community Night Shelters don’t need big chunks of government money to do a great job – but our guests really really need genuinely affordable homes (not hostels) to move on to.

Let’s hope this will make a difference.

We need to see how this announcement fits with the proposed limits on local housing allowance that are the axe hanging over thousands of supported housing projects that are currently housing homeless people, as well as accommodation in domestic abuse refuges and sheltered housing for elderly and disabled people.
But I’m a ridiculously optimistic person and Housing Justice will work with pretty much anyone to tackle the problems that lead to homelessness and to create a society where ‘no night out’ is the norm – where people are offered shelter first and then assessed to establish their needs and rights.

Homelessness is not something that can be solved by charities like us, by the churches, or by the Government working alone. Homelessness is a problem for the whole community and requires a response that involves the whole community.
Speaking of the value that the church give on issues of homelessness, The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Chair of Housing Justice and Bishop of Rochester added:
"The Government commitment to tackle homelessness is, of course, more than welcome. The reality is however, that the increasing problems of housing and homelessness are very complex and require concerted action over a period of time. 
As Chair of Housing Justice, I am committed to supporting the Church and other groups in taking this action for the long term. If the Government wishes to achieve its aspirations, we and others will, of course, seek to work creatively with them."

Note to Editors
  • The Catholic Housing Aid Society was established in 1956 by Massie Ward, Molly Walsh and a group of friends from within the Roman Catholic community in London as a direct result of families struggling to find appropriate and decent housing. Initially starting small, volunteers would look to see what they could do to offer affordable housing.
  • Since 2003, Housing Justice has become the National voice of Christian action for housing and homelessness, bringing together the Catholic Housing Aid Society and the Churches' National Housing Coalition.
  • Alison Gelder is available for interview, by prior arrangement.
  • All press and media enquiries should be directed to Adam May, Housing Justice Press Officer & CHAS 60th Anniversary Coordinator. Tel: 07736 949 869

Housing Justice is a Body in Association of Churches Together in England

16 March 2016


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