A new organisation that will give churches and dioceses practical advice on how to help their communities with all issues related to housing has been launched by the Church of England.
Headed by the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani, the Church Housing Foundation (CHF) will connect church congregations with experts in community engagement on topics including housing needs, planning, and legal issues.
"If you are a local church, if you are a member of that community there, you can be looking around and going: 'We need to be doing something to meet the need around us'.
"We want to give you the resources that will help you start that well. But also be there on that journey together so that people who've already done this can be helping those who are coming behind," David Evans from CHF told Premier.
The foundation is one of the recommendations from Coming Home, a report published in 2021 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York's Commission on Housing, Church and Community.
It explored ways in which the Church of England should play a role in housing and communities across the country with suggestions such as delivering more affordable homes on its own land, offering more training on how to engage on housing matters and creating the foundation.
Evans continued: "What we're expecting from this is obviously more affordable housing to be built. But more than that, the values that were set out in the Coming Home report talk about building not just houses but real communities. So houses and communities that are sustainable, that are safe, that are stable."
Around 8 million people in England live in overcrowded, unaffordable or unsuitable housing, according to a report by the National Housing Federation, with fears the figure has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic and the current cost of living crisis.
"We are inviting people to come together across the Church and the housing sector, people who share a vision for good housing and communities," Bishop Guli said.
She continued: "Within the Church, we are demanding more from ourselves as stewards of prodigious resources - both nationally and locally. However, it is not just our land that is of value but our presence and agency in many different communities.
"If we look around and ask who is standing up for those in housing need around us, the answer is clear: it should be the Church."