Read the Archbishop's opening speech in his House of Lords debate today on the Coming Home Report and the need for a long term housing strategy.
The Archbishops’ Housing Commission is exploring a new attitude to housing which puts an emphasis on human flourishing and sociability, not just shelter. We believe that this is important for everyone, but it presents particular opportunities for people of faith who want to take it to the next level. We found out about Müller House in Bristol, where people live, eat, pray and journey together.
One of the hardest things about the housing system is that it’s confusing. Adeola Ogunade saw this first-hand working as a Housing Resettlement Officer with the probation service. She thought that she could do more to help people in this situation, so she got together a group of people – from her church and beyond – who also had experience with the housing system. She started the Hope4All housing surgery, providing free training and support on housing issues.
The team at St Barnabas Church in Wigan hear all sorts of stories. In one of the most deprived parishes in the country, the bedroom tax isn’t the only issue affecting the stability of people’s homes. Unemployment is high in the area, and drug and alcohol abuse are common. St Barnabas felt compelled to act. There’s no one silver bullet, so they take a variety of approaches.
The Friends’ Meeting House in Tunbridge Wells, where the Quakers met, was considerably larger than they needed. As the Quakers only needed half of their building, they realised that the other half could be used to provide a ‘stepping stone’ to independent living for young people who were moving on from supported accommodation at the local YMCA. Habitat for Humanity GB Homes were able to help.
Although Stamford might appear very affluent, there is another side to the town. ‘We have this beautiful looking church, full of posh, middle class people and then people who can’t afford the electric or to put food on the table’. By addressing multiple issues – such as debt, mental health problems, addiction and relationship breakdown – St George’s helps people to secure a stable home and provides a community where people can feel a sense of belonging.
The Archbishops’ Housing Commission is encouraging churches to promote the voices of their community - whether through existing structures or establishing something new. The example of St Paul's Marylebone shows how this can done without seeking to take control, by listening well and working with the local community.
Lighthouse is a fresh expression of church, specifically tailored to those who ‘are battered and bruised by the storms of life’. Many of their community have experienced homelessness, addiction issues, poverty and mental health problems.
Paul Whitnall has met with hundreds of churches to help them think about how the can use their buildings missionally, creating a 'Church Informal Audit'. The Archbishop of Canterbury's Housing Commission talked to him about his work.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community seeks to enable churches to play their part in tackling the housing crisis. To do this, we’re learning from those churches who are already doing this well. The work of the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Anis, the Bishop of Egypt, is world-renowned, so we spoke to him about it.