by Timothy Elphick CARDINAL Basil Hume has called for a radical rethink of Government housing policy to tackle the growing tide of homelessness sweeping Britain.
Cardinal Hume was joined yesterday by Archbishop Michael Bowen, Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and Anglican Church leaders at the launch of a nationwide Churches' petition on homelessness.
The petition, which will be taken to Westminster on December I during a lobby of Parliament organised by the Churches' National Housing Coalition, demands that people without adequate shelter should be given top priority as the effects of the recession bite.
"The growth and persistence of homelessness and bad housing is a fact, a scandal and a threat to future generations. The human suffering and social division caused makes this an issue that each of us must face. The Churches are united with many others in calling for compassion," the petition said.
The Churchmen called on the Government to help make 100,000 new homes available annually to end the "scourge" of homelessness in society.
Robina Rafferty, director of the Catholic Housing Aid Society, said that mortgage arrears and high levels of debt were forcing families to abandon their homes. A nationwide scheme spearheaded by housing associations and local authorities to build new homes for the 165,000 homeless people in Britain would help kick-start the economy, she said.