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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Churches call on Blair to direct 'Respect' agenda towards homeless
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¬†Churches housing charities are challenging Prime Minister Tony Blair that if he really wants to promote his 'Respect' agenda and combat social exclusion, then he should address the problems of more than 100,000 homeless families forced to live in temporary accommodation. As part of the work for Homelessness Sunday this year churches are being asked to take practical steps to prevent homelessness. These actions include looking at vacant church buildings for conversion to living accommodation, leasing houses and setting up temporary accommodation for those seeking to get into the private rented sector, and using church premises for those who are homeless and for play space or free meals. "The make up of our churches are rapidly changing in both demographic and physical terms. Some of these changes offer a real opportunity for churches to be creative and re-use premises for the homeless." said Robina Rafferty, Chief Executive of Housing Justice. "Parishioners sometimes leave houses to distant relatives who will then want to rent them out - these premises could be run by church organisations for homeless people." The situation is urgent with the human dignity of more than 100,000 families who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation in England and Wales at stake. These include 75,170 households containing children or a pregnant woman. There are believed to be over 150,000 children caught up in this unhealthy situation. Other actions recommended that can help prevent homelessness include early intervention to rectify potential problems. Housing advice centres run by churches and others can make a significant difference. Research into homelessness shows that housing problems do not suddenly appear but develop over time. There is often a period of four to five months between the first indication of a housing problem and an eviction notice being served. Local council housing departments usually only act when crisis point is reached and an eviction notice is served. Earlier intervention could prevent such problems. Rent deposit schemes where people are helped with the initial deposit required to obtain a property and tenancy support are other ways to prevent homelessness materialising. The longer-term answer is to build more homes. In 2004 a Treasury-commissioned report (the Barker Review) estimated that there would need to be an extra 140,000 homes built each year for the next 20 years to meet demand. Of these it was recommended that 23,000 should be affordable social housing to begin to replace the 1.6 million homes sold to tenants under the right to buy policy since 1980. Housing Justice urges the building of more sustainable housing. "In areas with lots of families in housing need we should ensure that new developments are of homes suitable for families of varying sizes rather than simply one and two bedroom flats. We need sustainable communities, with a range of sizes and tenures, so that we can work for much more mixed communities. In addition we need to ensure that the infrastructure such as transport, community facilities and schools are suitable for the area," said Ms Rafferty. Who are the homeless? (England - government figures 2004/5) *75,170 households (62 per cent of the total) were families with children or where the mother was pregnant. *10,560 (9 per cent) were young people aged 16 and 17 and care leavers under 21. *10,650 (9 per cent) were classed as vulnerable due to mental illness. *5,960 (5 per cent) were vulnerable as a result of domestic violence. *6,140 (5 per cent) were vulnerable due to disability. *3,440 (3 per cent) were vulnerable due to old age. the remaining 7 per cent were vulnerable due to reasons such as time spent in care, in custody, in the forces and from fleeing violence other than domestic violence Homelessness Sunday events More than 2,000 churches are taking part in Homelessness Sunday. For details of some events see the ICN Listings page. A full list can be found on the Homelessness Sunday website. 28 January 2006 Pastor Pete Cunningham - How to house Britain's Homeless, St Pauls, Robert Adam Street, London - contact Green Pastures Office 01704 535 989 29 January 2006 Alison Gelder, Housing Justice Director of External Affairs, will speak at the Faithworks event - Joining it Up, Hill Street Baptist Church, Poole 3.30 to 5.30pm. Robina Rafferty, Chief Executive of Housing Justice will speak at all masses at St Vincent De Paul, 36 Altenberg Gardens, London SW11. Salford RC Cathedral will hold an ecumenical service led by speaker from the Mustard Tree. Greg Mulholland MP will speak at Oxford Place Methodists in Leeds. Durham Cathedral will be holding a Homelessness Sunday at 6pm ≠ Preacher Mr Paul Marriott . YMCA will be taking part in services at churches and homeless shelters including * John Drake, chief executive of YMCA Norfolk, will be speaking at Ipswich Road United Reformed Church in Norwich. * Guildford YMCA will be raising local awareness by having a team from its Nightstop homeless project in Guildford High Street accompanied by a sofa to demonstrate hidden homeless. Robina Rafferty, Chief Executive of Housing Justice, will speak at Canterbury Cathedral on 22 January 2006 at 6.30pm. Ends For more information on Homelessness Sunday see:
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