Homelessness charity stresses need for advice services

 Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice yesterday called on the government to recognise the importance of housing advice as it marked the 50th anniversary of the foundation of CHAS, the Catholic Housing Aid Society, one of the organisations that formed Housing Justice in 2003. Housing Justice Chief Executive Alison Gelder said: "CHAS was founded in 1956 to tackle the problem of homelessness. It pioneered housing advice services through CHAS branches around the country. Independent housing advice is widely acknowledged as being the best means of helping people to avoid homelessness." Since 1956 CHAS and now Housing Justice have worked to offer advice and advocacy to help people solve their housing problems and campaigned for government action to address the underlying problems of homelessness. Gelder continued: "Over the last 50 years the CHAS housing advice centres have prevented homelessness among many thousands of families and single people through independent housing advice and advocacy. This work continues today with our network of 12 Housing Justice CHAS housing advice centres around the country." Speaking of the film Cathy Come Home which came out in 1966, 10 years after CHAS was established Gelder added "In 1966 the then Director of CHAS Father Eamonn Casey noted that Cathy's family could have avoided the misery of homelessness at any one of five points in the story if they had consulted a CHAS housing adviser." "If the situation were repeated today Cathy and her family would be rehoused by her local authority housing department but might face months, or even years, in temporary accommodation. We are today calling on the government to build more socially rented homes so that Cathy and her family would not have to suffer in bad housing." The 50th anniversary of the founding of CHAS will be marked by a Jubilee Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith at Westminster Cathedral, London SW1 next Monday 20 November, at 5.30pm.

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