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New body hopes to promote and support housing partnerships

03 March 2023

Church Housing Foundation

A NEW foundation has been launched by the Church of England to help churches address the housing crisis.

The Church Housing Foundation (CHF) was launched on Friday, and is being led by the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the C of E’s lead bishop for housing.

In a statement announcing the new foundation, Dr Francis-Dehqani said: “Our churches play a vital role in the communities they serve, working together with people in desperate circumstances to help with immediate needs. Many are also looking at longer-term support such as providing good housing.”

The CHF builds on the report Coming Home, published two years ago by the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community (News, 26 February 2021). The report recommended that the Church forms partnerships with housing associations and local authorities to help provide affordable housing on church land.

A stated aim of the CHF is to promote engagement between various stakeholders, including churches, dioceses, housing professionals, and charities. Those wishing to get involved can register on the foundation’s website.

On Friday, Dr Francis-Dehqani said: “We are inviting people to come together across the Church and the housing sector — people who share a vision for good housing and communities”. The Church, she said, was participating in wider discussions around housing in order to “learn from and bless the work of others”.

She continued: “Within the Church we are demanding more from ourselves as stewards of prodigious resources — both nationally and locally. However, it is not just our land that is of value, but our presence and agency in many different communities. If we look around and ask who is standing up for those in housing need around us, the answer is clear: it should be the Church.”

Last year, the Church Commissioners submitted a planning application for a 2000-home development in West Sussex, adjoining Bognor Regis (News, 17 November 2022). There have been some complaints locally about the scale of this development and the affordability of the houses.

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