Action for homeless demanded by Carey

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The Independent Online
THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, last night called for 'a moral crusade' to rid society of the 'evil' of homelessness.

Preaching at an ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey on the eve of a church lobby of Parliament on housing, he said: 'The scandal of homelessness and bad housing is not simply a matter of poor living conditions . . . the scandal is that human solidarity has broken down; that we have turned away from the vision of building a community in which God's gifts are available to those in greatest need.'

More than 160,000 families are now officially homeless, and Dr Carey accused the nation of being sluggish in the face of the problem. 'The fact that we live with this situation so easily suggests that we have grown dull,' he said.

Dr Carey said that a member of the Government had commented to him recently that homelessness never attracts the attention given to other social issues. 'We agreed that the explanation may have something to do with the fact that the homeless . . . often have no voice because they are, or they are made to feel, refugees or exiles in their own land . . . From defeat, they cannot rise to fight yet more battles for themselves.'

Specific remedies to the problem will be highlighted today when members of the Churches' National Housing Coalition lobby MPs. More than 2,000 people are expected to take part, and they will press the Government for a commitment to build 100,000 new affordable homes each year, a legally-enforceable 'tenants' charter', alternatives to bed-and-breakfast accommodation and reform of housing subsidies.

Dr Carey said that churches should also do more to alleviate homelessness by making church land and property available for low-cost housing.