The Church of England has revealed its first bishop for Housing, as it doubles down on its efforts to help tackle the UK’s housing crisis.
Bishop of Loughborough Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani has been appointed the role, which will see her lead the Church’s renewed commitment to tackling housing inequality later in the year when she becomes Bishop of Chelmsford.
The appointment comes ahead of the publication next month of the findings of a two-year commission, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which examines the role of the church in tackling housing inequality.
As part of her new role, Bishop Guli will lead on the efforts to implement the recommendations from the commission.
The Bishop of Barking, Peter Hill, will serve as Bishop Guli’s deputy; and further support will be provided by the Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin, who is currently serving as vice-chair of the commission.
The group will work alongside dioceses and other church bodies, as well as strengthening relationships with housing associations, developers, national organisations, and landowners.
The Church intends to use its own land to help resolve the housing crisis.
‘An issue of justice’
Announced Bishop Guli’s appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “In April 2019, I set up a commission to look at what the Church could do to resolve our housing crisis and to strengthen our communities.
“That commission will report next month but has already recommended that the Church appoints a bishop for Housing to ensure that we follow through on its recommendations.
“I am delighted that Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani will fulfil this role, bringing, as she does, enormous understanding of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised to this important work.
“Housing is an issue of justice, which Jesus cares about intimately. My prayers will be with Bishop Guli as she embarks upon this vital role, and with all those who suffer from unsafe, unsuitable and unaffordable housing.”
Bishop Guli added: “The work the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church, and Community is inspirational.
“I’m delighted to be joining others in working to ensure that the aspirations become reality and the hopes are translated into concrete change.
“It will be a privilege to be part of this.”
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