Thursday, February 12, 2009

Faith in Affordable Housing

A new website called 'Faith in Affordable Housing' is being launched today at Church House Westminster, headquarters of the Church of England.

Under the cooperative banner of churches' campaign Housing Justice, it offers practical and technical information to help local churches of all traditions offer their land or property for housing aimed at those in social and economic need.

Converting existing church buildings into affordable housing provides a win-win situation, argues the website.

Not only does it provide a much needed resource for the local community but also brings in an often urgently needed revenue stream to the church.

The guide presents nine case studies from different Christian denominations in both urban and rural areas of England.

One example is St James's Church Centre in Northumberland (United Reformed Church). It was in desperate need of renovation. Now it hosts nine affordable homes plus a thoroughly modernised century church, including facilities that meet the needs of diverse groups within the town.

The worship area is also adaptable and can be used for conferences and concerts.

Meanwhile at St Paul's in Plymouth (Church of England), the old church and hall was demolished and a new 40-flat extra care scheme for older people built in its place.

A new community building, complete with a dedicated smaller worship space for the church to use, was built on the site of the local library. In turn a new library was developed as part of the extra care building.

The supply of affordable housing needs to be increased dramatically, say the churches. Faith in Affordable Housing offers ways in which churches ­ across all denominations ­ can contribute to the supply, as well as generating income.

Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of Housing Justice, said: "I am delighted to commend this initiative to all faith communities who are seeking to respond to the needs of the homeless or poorly housed. In both urban and rural areas there is evidence of spiralling hardship which can lead to the loss of a basic requisite of human dignity ­ shelter."

Faith in Affordable Housing sas: "Although churches often support the principle of the redevelopment of church land and property for social housing, many are concerned about meeting other objectives ­ they have staff to pay, buildings to maintain and a mission to fulfil. Yet there is great potential for churches to use surplus assets for those in housing need and still fulfil these aims.

"This guide offers the ideas, information and inspiration to help churches provide affordable housing wherever possible", said James Derounian from the University of Gloucestershire.

To see Faith in Affordable Housing visit:


“Arguably, the global economic crisis will turn out to be more significant for us and other developed economies than the collapse of communism. A New Capitalism is likely to emerge from the rubble. For many, the New Capitalism may well seem fairer and less alienating than the model of the past 30 years, in that the system’s salvation may require it to be kinder, gentler, less divisive, less of a casino in which the winner takes all.” Robert Preston

“Impossible to ignore and reminding us all of our vulnerability, the crisis that threatens us seems to be us; we are simultaneously menaced by the wave, and exist as elements of that wave. After all, that is what an economic crisis actually is: the sum of all the individual actions of billions of people around the world, deciding whether to lend or hoard, borrow or save, sell or buy, move or stay, hire or fire, study or look for work, be pessimistic or optimistic.”

£135m daily increase in UK debt
£59,702 average household debt
£242 amount of interest paid in the UK daily
Every 10 minutes a property is repossessed
2,466 people made redundant every day
1 person every 4.8 minutes declared bankrupt or insolvent
£102 average daily decrease in house prices in 2008

Poverty, virtually no interest for savers; poor investment returns for individuals and organisations, fuel poverty
Increased unemployment, reduced income, hours; manufacturing meltdown;
Mental and physical health (60% more family GP visits when main wage earner made redundant),
Family breakdown, domestic violence, separation and divorce
Crime (vehicle, street, deception),
Civic unrest (nationalist sentiments + racism to migrant workers etc; rise of the BNP), A
Alcohol , gambling, drug abuse, domestic violence,
House repossessions & homelessness/unsuitable housing (affordable housing);
Bailiffs, threats and loan sharks,
Bankruptcy; fuel poverty; money lenders/loan sharks= exploitation;
Voluntary sector funding and giving; bankers bonuses;


MAKE a fresh and distinctive contribution to an emerging public debate about the heart of a ‘new capitalism’ which marries wealth creation and social justice, drawing upon the deep wells of Christian principles and historic traditions of social thinking.
EXPLORE how the local church can offer practical, pastoral support to both congregations and local communities; seeking to address indebtedness, financial capability, responsible sustainable consumption, and the creation of a generous, neighbourly society; and then to seek to put this into action.
STANDING alongside people in empathy
CHALLENGE Christian attitudes to wealth and possessions as a part of personal discipleship, thereby encouraging godly aspiration, contentment, restraint, gratitude and generosity.


There is reason to believe that the moral consensus is capable of revival. One way for the Church to explore and promote this is by appealing to widely-held notions of fairness, generosity and sustainability:
Is it FAIR? Does it give priority to the vulnerable-the young struggling to enter the labour market, and the elderly living on fixed incomes; people in poverty within UK and globally? Financial inclusion? Credit Unions?
Is it GENEROUS? Does it embody the obligation to give and share our resources with others? Does it embody fair trade and global aid?
Is it SUSTAINABLE? Long-term thinking not quick fixes

• Voluntary Norfolk
• Church Action Poverty
• Life 4 Seekers
• Christians Against Poverty
• Samaritans
• West Norfolk VCA