Church of England unveils plan to become major provider of social housing nationally

Published: Wednesday May 25, 2022

The Church of England is taking steps to set up a national housing association which will enable the Church to become a major provider of social housing. It will pioneer a shared land management and development service to develop skills and capacity across its network of dioceses.

In February 2021, the Archbishop’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community published The Coming Home Report, naming the scandal that around 8 million people in England live in overcrowded, unaffordable or unsuitable homes. One year on from that report, Church and industry leaders gathered to review progress and set out plans.

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and the Church of England’s Bishop for Housing, said, “This degree of social change – which we could think of as “levelling up”, rooted in the visions and values we derive from our faith – requires more land and buildings than we currently have, and it needs to be deliverable to every part of the country.  If we only develop housing on the land we currently own, we’ll never bring about the justice we long to see, nor will it be enough to turn the tide of the current housing crisis.

“That’s why we are proposing to set up a Church Housing Association which will enable us to deliver housing, social change and ministry funding beyond the realms of our existing inheritance into more marginalised areas where the need is greatest.

“We want to use the gifts and talents which God has entrusted to us as the Church in order to love our neighbours – by building lovely neighbourhoods and being ambassadors for God’s kingdom, as we demonstrate that our physical dwelling places can be a foretaste of “coming home” to our true dwelling place with God.”

Archbishop Justin said, “The priority of the housing crisis is getting worse rather than better because of high levels of inflation and very rapidly rising levels of poverty, with incomes rising far below the level of inflation, and the likelihood of recession – all these have put enormous pressure on housing. If you’re building a more just society, housing is one of the main building blocks.”

He stressed the need for partnership and the need for radical imagination in the way we approach the crisis. He talked about increasing capacity, confidence, and competence in housing within the Church and its partnerships.

Alan Smith, First Estates Commissioner, Church Commissioners for England said, “For the Church and particularly for us as Church Commissioners, this is one of the defining issues we are facing. It’s about collaborating and being willing to move ahead while not having all the answers, through new Church pilot schemes. The Commissioners are currently delivering 30,000 new homes, from 60 sites across England of which 9,000 will be affordable. We want to start digging beneath that – truly affordable and begin to push into areas of affordable housing where there is a big gap, and where the truly vulnerable are not being served right now.”

Benjamin Preece Smith, Leader of the team following up Coming Home, and Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Gloucester described some of the practical ways that the Church in his local area had been working for change. 400 homes have been allocated in the local plans of which 40% are truly affordable housing. The Diocese is also investing in living pods to house vulnerable people on ‘meanwhile land’ which has been marked for future development. The diocesan policy is to build more affordable than market value property on Church land and with these schemes the diocese should maintain this target.

2 thoughts on “Church of England unveils plan to become major provider of social housing nationally

  1. With you 100% Pastor Pete,do call us if we can serve you in some way,we’ve been doing it for 23years at Greenpastures.Housiing over 5000 now in partnership with over 120 churches.Blessings

  2. This is really great news. Happy to help if you need it. I have a small portfolio of market value properties and experience in managing residential property. Live in Gloucester Diocese.

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