On 23 January 2019 in the Houses of Parliament, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Benedict XVI Centre of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, launched a new booklet, ‘Perspectives on political, social and human aspects of the housing crisis’. The main essay, contributed by Professor Philip Booth of St Mary’s University, calls on the Government to make it easier to build houses, including on the Green Belt.
Panellists at the well-attended launch event included Parliamentarians Siobhain McDonagh (Labour), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative) and Lord Shipley (Liberal Democrat), all of whom also provided forewords for the booklet. Other speakers included the eminent philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, Edward Davies from the Centre for Social Justice, and Gareth Wallace from the Conservative Christian Fellowship.
Professor Booth said, ‘Perhaps the most pressing domestic policy issue of our time is the price of housing. It is a major driver of inequality, poverty and disengagement and has become increasingly important as a cause of homelessness.’
The new booklet, produced in collaboration between CSAN and the Benedict XVI Centre, follows the release in November 2018 of Abide in Me, a major report on housing developed jointly by CSAN and the Centre for Theology and Community. In response to Abide in Me, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales resolved to encourage the leaders of Catholic organisations to prioritise work on the availability of housing until 2030, aligned with the timescale for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and in recognition of the scale of the ‘housing crisis’.
As a next step in the emerging response by Catholic organisations, in February 2019 the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice, of which CSAN is a founding member, is holding a public lecture on housing and Catholic social teaching.