Housing charities want to see churches making their unused land and buildings available to the community in order to tackle the rural housing crisis.
The proposal was made at a conference hosted by Housing Justice, the Cumbria Rural Housing Trust and Churches Trust for Cumbria in Penrith on 13 October 2010.
The aim of the gathering was "to celebrate and share existing good practice of creating affordable housing and community uses in churches and on church-owned land in Cumbria and further afield; and to explore the challenges faced in increasing these developments in faith buildings within the current context of the Government’s agenda for a 'Big Society'."
The participants also examined the growth and nature of localism, housing policy changes, and the long- and short-term impact of impending budget cuts.
The Christian housing charities want the churches to consider turning their surplus property into community and development space.
Housing Justice Deputy Director, Alastair Murray, explained: “We know that we need to increase dramatically the supply of affordable housing. Churches are uniquely placed in the community to support this aim where they have surplus assets."
He added: “Providing housing is a very practical solution to creating social benefit and preventing rural hardship.”
The conference is the second in a series of 'Faith in Affordable Housing' events organised and co-hosted by Housing Justice.
The latest event comes after the release of the charity’s ‘Faith in Affordable Housing’ guide, published at the Church of England’s General Synod, its governing body, in 2009.
Housing Justice (http://www.housingjustice.org.uk/) also works with Catholic, Free Church and ecumenical groupings within the Christian community, as well as cooperating with secular agencies.