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Prince of Wales £3M homeless project backed by lead CofE bishop

by Heather Preston

The Prince of Wales’ project, aimed at ending homelessness, has been backed by the Church of England's lead bishop for housing.

The initiative, called Homewards, aims to make rough sleeping, sofa surfing and other forms of temporary accommodation a thing of the past.

Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the Bishop of Chelmsford, says she’s “delighted” to see Prince William’s “personal commitment” to the issue.

William began a two-day tour of the UK on Monday to launch the project, saying homelessness should not exist in a "modern and progressive society”.

The charitable foundation will provide £3 million for local businesses, organisations and people to collaborate on new ideas and proposals to tackle long-term homelessness.

Six pilot programmes will receive a start-up grant of up to £500,000 to help make homelessness “rare, brief and unrepeated" - a phrase which echoes the government's ambition.

Francis-Dehqani says the Prince and the Church of England share the same desire "to tackle the underlying causes” of homelessness as well as supporting those in crisis:

"The leadership of the Prince of Wales will undoubtedly have a tangible impact; his determination to address this crisis will be welcomed by churches up and down the country who are on the front line of supporting those experiencing homelessness,” she said.

The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic criticised the scheme as being “performative and hypocritical”, arguing that wealthy people with multiple homes - such as Prince William - are part of the problem.

Following the launch of the five-year project, CEOs of some of the biggest homelessness charities in the country wrote an open letter praising the scheme, whilst highlighting the need for a “whole society” response to the issue.

Francis-Dehqani further acknowledged this call, stating that the Church of England, “will play its part.”

She says one major factor contributing towards the problem is “a lack of truly affordable and high quality housing.”

According to latest data from the Office for National Statistics, housing affordability in England and Wales has continued to worsen in recent years while average house prices have continued to increase.

The 'Coming Home' report, commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2019, sets out vital actions for the church, government and other stakeholders to build quality homes and communities.

“Good homes provide a foundation for communities where everyone can flourish. Together we have substantial resources to bring to bear, and so we look forward to adding our support to the Prince of Wales as he leads on this vital issue.”

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