Housing Justice, the new Christian Housing Charity, comes in to being today. Its first Chief Executive will be Robina Rafferty, former Director of the Catholic Housing Aid Society and it will be chaired by Bishop David Walker. Housing Justice has been formed from the merger of the Churches National Housing Coalition (CNCH) and the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS). The merger creates a united voice for the Christian Community in campaigning, services, education, policy work and housing advice. A formal launch of the new body, by national church leaders, will take place in the autumn. CHAS has been campaigning to prevent homelessness for over 40 years. It has a network of ten housing advice centres in England, providing advice and assistance to people in housing need. Its Policy and Education team works with church and community groups, providing a range of materials to help them both to respond practically to their local housing issues and to campaign at local and national level. CNHC started up in 1990, and works with many denominations around the country. As well as campaigning it promotes and develops models by which churches can engage with housing issues. Present examples include MegaBite (a food token scheme operating in several towns and cities) and Regenerate (bringing together tenants and local activists from different parts of the country). Partners include The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit and the Housing Corporation. Its director was Brendan Bowles. Robina Rafferty currently serves as Clerk to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Homelessness and Housing Need. She was a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Urban Priority Areas which produced the report Faith in the City in 1985. She has served on numerous Church and housing bodies over the years and was awarded the Cross of St Augustine by Archbishop George Carey in 2002. Bishop David is the Bishop of Dudley in the Church of England Diocese of Worcester, having previously served as a clergyman in Yorkshire. A former member of the National Housing Federation Executive Board he has served on various government and voluntary sector groups in housing and regeneration.
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