Think of a house as a home not an asset, says charity chief

By agency reporter
October 25, 2008

Giving the inaugural Housing Justice lecture on 22 October, the charity's chief executive Alison Gelder spoke of the need to change the values of society so that we think of houses and flats as homes rather than assets.

The lecture was both a contribution to the Get Fair campaign and to the debate which is running ahead of the Housing Reform Green Paper which Communities and Local Government plan to publish before the end of the year.

Gelder set out four situations of particular injustice in the housing landscape:

* that the house price boom of the last thirty years has left some home-owners with unearned assets
* that secure local authority tenancies mean some people have both security of tenure and a lifetime on a low rent
* that the distribution of housing stock is not according to need
* the set of closed systems which have stopped people moving between tenures

Gelder urged the Government to learn from the practice of corporate strategic planning to develop realistic, owned by the bottom as well as the top, national strategies for housing and homelessness.

“Perhaps there is an opportunity here with the new Rough Sleepers Strategy?” she said.

The lecture also described the current landscape of housing and homelessness and explored the meaning of ‘fair’ in philosophical and theological contexts.

The full text of Ms Gelder's lecture is available on the Housing Justice website:

Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action to prevent homelessness and bad housing. It was formed in April 2003 by the merger of two long-standing housing charities, the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) and the Churches National Housing Coalition (CNHC). In January 2006 Housing Justice merged with UNLEASH (Church Action on Homelessness in London).

Housing Justice brings together more than 60 years experience of working for change in the field of housing. It supports frontline services to people in housing need and campaigns to improve housing policy, as well as being actively involved in more than 35 communities across England and Wales.

The charity also supports church-based housing and homelessness projects in London. It is responsible for coordinating the Soup Run Forum amongst other activities.

Elsewhere it is working with Scottish Churches Housing Action and Church Action on Poverty to coordinate Poverty and Homelessness Action Week 31 January – 8 February 2009 - a week long series of events to highlight the problems of poverty and homelessness in Britain today.

Housing Justice works with, and for, homeless and badly housed people of all faiths, and with those who have no religious beliefs.

A spokesperson explained: "All our services are offered to the whole community and, wherever possible, we work in partnership with others who share our values, regardless of religious beliefs."

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