FIVE GROUPS UNITE
BY A STAFF REPORTER
AN ALL-OUT attack on Britain's serious housing problem is being made by five major voluntary housing organisations. Not only will they prod the national conscience but they will also co-operate with the Government and other bodies in trying to speed up the rehousing of the nation's homeless.
There are a total of 320,273 unfit houses in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham alone. London has the highest waiting list with 150,000 families, Glasgow has 78,524 and Birmingham 38,000.
The five organisations taking part in the campaign, named " Shelter " and launched in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, yesterday, are the Catholic Housing Aid Society, the British Churches Housing Trust, Christian Action, Housing the Homeless Central Fund and the Housing Societies Charitable Trust.
Fr. Eamonn Casey of the Catholic society, said that the bulk of the money raised by the campaign
would be distributed among housing associations working closely with local authorities in the four worst-hit cities.
Fr. E. Carey
These voluntary, non-profitmaking local groups buy houses, convert them into good, simple homes and let them at fair rents to families in the most urgent need.
Fr. Casey said that by cooperating in this campaign everybody could be involved in an urgently-needed national rescue operation.
"Shelter" had the benefit of advice from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, local authorities, and research groups in selecting the four cities.
The Rev. Bruce Kenrick of the Church of Scotland and chairman of "Shelter", said: "Many local authorities are carrying out ambitious and impressive slum clearance and redevelopment programmes, but the housing problem m some cities is so great that, despite the vigorous work of the local authorities, thousands of desperate families will not feel the benefit for many years.
"For some, it will be at least 10 years. But, among these there are families on the point of disintegration. They need help now."
Mr. Kenrick quoted the 1965 White Paper on housing as stating that "3m. families in Britain today are still living either in slums. near slums or in grossly overcrowded conditions."
The White Paper said "We are faced with an ever-growing shortage of accommodation within the means of poorer families . . shortage falls heaviest on those least able to pay a high price for their homes "The families in really bad housing conditions — in the Slums, overcrowded, in mul tiple-occupation — are, in genera!, families who can only afford to rent and who in most cases cannot afford to pay an economic rent."
Mr. Kenrick emphasised that "Shelter's" first concern was to help make the nation aware of the problems of the "hidden homeless".
"But the figures for the officially homeless must cause us serious concern," he said. "On New Year's Day this year there were 12,411 people in hostels for the homeless. On one day last year 4,000 children were in the care of the State because their families were either homeless or living in unsatisfactory home conditions. The cost to the nation of keeping these children was about £lm. a year."