Helping churches tackle the housing crisis

26 FEB 2020
A project aimed at inspiring churches to make the most of under-used church property to meet local housing need has launched this week, and Allchurches Trust is funding the groundbreaking pilot with a £22,250 grant.
 
Innovative Built Solutions for Churches, run by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community, will help to establish a small number of small-scale housing schemes involving the use of church land and buildings.
 
Working with specialist housing consultants LivShare Consulting, churches will be offered early stage support to get projects off the ground, including technical advice and help with securing funding and building partnerships. 
 
Keswick Community Housing Trust, for example, was set up by churches, using church land and buildings to develop affordable homes for local people, who are being forced out of the area by the rise in holiday properties. 
 
Innovative Built Solutions is looking for churches of all denominations that are actively exploring the possibility of a small-scale housing scheme using church-owned land or property to meet a local housing need and are interested in projects that are at a relatively early stage in their development. They will offer free expert advice to five church-led projects - up to five days each - and harness the support of potential funders and partner organisations.  
 
In the longer term, the project will also produce a practical online guide for churches that wish to explore their options for underused church land and property. Churches can nominate their housing schemes for the Innovative Built Solutions programme here.
 
Another competition launched this week by the Commission - Project Lab 2020 - run in partnership with the Cinnamon Network, will identify five church projects working to support local people with housing needs and build community. These might include mentoring and befriending services, tenancy training and advocacy on behalf of vulnerable clients, including mediating with landlords.
 
The five finalists will be invited to an event in July, at which they will present their projects to an audience of philanthropists and a panel of judges. Two winning projects will receive a £30,000 development grant and there are up to five places available on the two-year ‘Cinnamon Project Incubator’ – where projects will receive support from industry professionals to develop their initiative. 
 
Project Lab 2020 aims to provide a blueprint for a projects that can be replicated by churches across the nation to support people in housing need. For more information, see: cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/cinnamon-project-lab-2020
 
The Commission’s vice-chair, The Right Reverend Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington, said: “Housing matters to God because it matters to all of us. Throughout history, churches have provided shelter to those who need it – from almshouses to establishing many of the housing associations which arose in the 20th Century. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Housing Commission is looking at how churches can respond to housing needs, as well as asking the Government and others to work with us to create real change.” 
 
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community seeks to re-imagine housing policy, with a focus on building better communities and homes, not just houses. As well as making recommendations for Government and others, it will also look at what actions the Church can take, in partnership with others, to help tackle the crisis at local, regional and national levels.
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