The London Missional Housing Bond was first launched in early 2013 as a pilot. After 3 years of work, and two Bond issues, we have now raised nearly £1m of capital for missional housing in London and provided two growing churches in London with missional properties to support their work.We want to celebrate this achievement and thank our investors – who have made this project into a small revolution. This is because the Housing Bond was ‘crowd funded’ from ordinary Christians, local churches and small Christian trusts – not a handful of wealthy City investors, pension funds or banks.
We believe that the Housing Bond is a good example of how social investment can advance church growth and want to see other churches and regions harnessing it for their own work.
The Bond supports the church’s mission in deprived communities in London by providing affordable rented housing for key church missional workers. The cost of housing, including rented housing, in even the most deprived areas of London is now so high that it has become a significant obstacle to church mission.
The Bond raises social investment to buy homes in London which can then be rented out, at well below-market levels, to church workers involved in mission in some of London’s most disadvantaged communities.
The London Missional Housing Bond has been developed and led by four partners – the Centre for Theology & Community, the Diocese of London, Mission Housing and the Eden Network (London).
Over two Bond issues, nearly £1m of capital has been raised – from individuals, local churches and Christian trusts – with investors receiving up to 2% returns each year. Some £845,000 capital was raised directly through the Bond. A further £110,000 equity investment was secured from a Christian Trust, bringing the total capital raised to £955,000.
The Bond partners invited interest from churches and Christian charities across London in securing the use of a missional property and two local partners were selected, both of them church plants which are growing and serving deprived areas: St Peter’s, Bethnal Green (Tower Hamlets) and Inspire London, Old St (Islington)
For each church, the Bond’s funds have been used by Mission Housing (on behalf of the partners) to purchase a two-bedroom missional flat which has been made available to the local church to house missional workers at a social rent – that is, 40% below market rental levels.
The Housing Bond has been a pilot project, the first such Housing Bond of its kind. We believe that we have demonstrated that this model works.
The Bond has proved itself an interesting example of ‘crowdfunding’ where most of the capital has been raised from a wide range of investors rather than just a handful of large investments from a few individuals.
Social investment is an underused source of finance for the church and its mission. We hope that this Bond will play a role in promoting a change of attitudes within churches towards the more imaginative use of resources. We hope that this will be the first Bond of many, helping the church to include social investment as one of its regular habits.
For information on current investment possibilities in the Housing Bond and other missional housing initiatives, please contact Jim Gilbourne, Chief Executive of Mission Housing [firstname.lastname@example.org]
For churches interested in using this model or learning from it, a more technical briefing paper is also available from the Centre for Theology & Community; please contact Tim Thorlby, Development Director [email@example.com]