The Catholic Housing Aid Agency has welcomed a new study released this week, which warns of a massive increase in homelessness in the UK over the next 20 years unless housebuilding increases dramatically. The Joseph Rowntree report: 'Land for Housing' launched at the Centenary Housing Conference, warned that there will be a shortfall of more than a million homes by 2020, unless concerted action is taken. The knock-on effect of this will mean chronic shortages of key workers, such as nurses and teachers who will be completely priced out of the market. Areas hardest hit will be London and the South East. Although these regions contribute 70% of new homes, of the rising demand for new homes, only 50% are being built there. By contrast in the Midlands and North there are growing problems of low demand in some areas, and of empty and abandoned property. Robina Rafferty, director of CHAS, said: "The report estimates that the difference between housing demand and supply will have widened into a yawning gap of 1.1 million homes in England alone by 2020 - most of it in London and the South East. This genuinely shocking statistic shows why the time has come for policy makers to recognise that a plentiful supply of new and affordable homes is of the greatest importance for the nation's future health and prosperity. "It is not just teachers and nurses that are affected by the housing shortage. People in many other service industries such as transport are also struggling to find accommodation in London and the South East. In the meantime properties are going empty elsewhere in the country and some areas have high unemployment. "We would like to see the government invest more resources into building sustainable communities across the country." She said: "In the current situation, the lack of adequate housing is putting huge pressures on family life. Many people are commuting such long distances they only see their children at weekends."
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