Whether you have any connection to the Church of England or not, the recently published ‘Coming Home’ report commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is a real call to action to tackle the housing crisis together.
The report sets out 5 housing values: sustainable, safe, stable, sociable (think post-Covid-19) and satisfying - values I’m sure we all agree with. It includes case studies of where churches and their congregations have made a difference to a housing issue in the local area, sets out recommended actions for moving forward and provides resources for churches to understand the connection between church and housing on a theological basis.
The 4 things that struck me most when reading the report were:
- The Church of England means business. It has appointed a Bishop for Housing. It has liaised with the Charity Commission to look at ways churches can dispose of land, looking beyond the economic issues (more on this on my second point). It has the support of 'big names’ in the housing world. It talks corporately about ESG.
- The importance of releasing land held for the development of truly affordable homes is recognised and practical tools put in place to help with this. This is desperately needed in other sectors (think old NHS and MoD sites) at a faster pace than we have seen to date.
- There is a call to action for a cross-party long-term housing strategy. Ironically one of the things that drew me to housing as an area of law, is that it is politically driven and consistently changing (admittedly some lawyers’ idea of hell!). However, I do completely recognise the value that long-term stability and approach could bring.
- The final ‘s’ that sits alongside the 5 housing values is sacrifice: that all players (developers, landlords, government) are willing to make a sacrifice for wider social gain. Sacrifice is at the very heart of the Church of England faith; will the other players be so inspired that they are willing to do the same?
TACKLING THE HOUSING CRISIS TOGETHER Coming Home