The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, blogs for us on the importance of the Church getting stuck in to help tackle the housing crisis…
Across the UK, we face a growing housing crisis. There is a serious lack of affordable housing in many different areas. All too often, housing is seen simply as a commodity to be bought and sold. In fact, homes are much more than that. The pattern of housing provision shapes the life of our communities for good or ill. A vision of the common good needs to be at the heart of housing policy.
Housing Associations wrestle with the challenge of how to put community at the heart of the building and management of homes. It’s an issue which the Church also has to engage with, because we believe God is concerned about all the hopes and needs of his children, and the provision of decent, affordable housing is vital to their flourishing.
Archbishop Justin Welby has urged Churches and Housing Associations to rediscover their ‘common heritage,’ and to work together for the common good. I am pleased to see a response to that exhortation. It reminds us of just what we have achieved together in the past – not least in the pioneering ministry of Fr Basil Jellicoe – and it shows how much we can achieve together in our own day.
As I prepare to move house – from London, where I have ministered for over 20 years, to Gloucester – it is a great personal pleasure to see work being done which is so relevant to both contexts, with case studies of imaginative and effective partnerships between churches and housing associations in each city.
In east London, I have seen at first hand what the Church can do in partnership with others: how it has been at the heart of initiatives which have secured a Living Wage for low-paid workers, challenged exploitative lending and supported ethical alternatives. I believe that the Church can have the same transformative impact on the issue of housing, if we are willing to work with people of good will far beyond our walls. This report has an important part to play in turning that vision into a reality.
(This blog was adapted from Bishop Rachel’s foreward to our new report, Our Common Heritage: Housing associations and churches working together.)