1. How much does the church have to pay to partner with Green Pastures?
We don't charge a fee for partnership and this is not a franchise arrangement. We do ask, though, that you find at least 10 supporters who are willing to become 'Good Samaritans', which means that they commit to paying at least £5 per month to Green Pastures. For more details, click here.
2. What kind of property can you buy?
We will buy a property that best serves the needs of the people you feel called to serve. Normally, we start with a small House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) with 3-5 bedrooms, but it could be a self-contained flat. Occasionally, we will consider larger projects, such as a block of flats or a hostel, especially if you already have experience in housing formerly homeless or vulnerably housed people.
3. How much does it cost to run the house?
General property related items such as council tax, insurance, water, gas and electricity will be paid for out of the Housing Benefit claim your residents will make.
4. What about the cost of upgrading the property to meet the required standards for an HMO, like adding fire doors, smoke alarms, etc.? Do we have to pay for them all ourselves?
We have a wealth of experience in helping partners with the funding of their operations. There are means of claiming for costs like these, which we will give you full guidance on. Green Pastures can fund the upgrades if required and you can repay us as you get Housing Benefit payments.
5. Will we need to pay for any repairs or maintenance?
You are responsible for general maintenance costs. Any repairs not covered by insurance, or general maintenance costs are covered by funds built up through Housing Benefit payments. If there are any significant items of expenditure that occur before you have time to build up sufficient funds, and you don't have the money yourselves, Green Pastures can help out and you can repay us as you get Housing Benefit payments.
6. Is there a GP Partner near me that I could visit?
You can search our interactive map here. If you would like to visit a Green Pastures Partner to see how things work then please do get in touch. This is great to see how other organisations similar to yours have made a difference in partnership with Green Pastures.
7. As well as speaking to Green Pastures, should we be doing anything else as we consider this?
If you haven't already, we do strongly recommend that you start researching homelessness in your area. Speak to local homeless hostels, charities and the council, and find out the extent of the problem. Consider the types of people that you would best be able to support. Speak to your potential team and pray together to ascertain exactly what group of people you feel most called to care for.
8. Where do you get the funds to purchase property?
About 40% of the funds for purchasing new property comes through our Loan Stock Scheme. This comes from individuals and organisations looking to make an ethical investment of funds to Green Pastures. The remainder comes from bank loans and mortgages. Should we have any surplus loan stock funds we would utilise them before taking out a loan.
9. We are a Churches Together group or a Christian charity not affiliated with one specific church. Can we still partner?
Yes! About half of our Partners are churches and the other half are Christian charities or Churches Together groups. We would be more than happy to speak at a Churches Together, or equivalent, meeting to talk about partnership.
10. Does Green Pastures only partner with Christian organisations?
No, although the heart of Green Pastures is to see people coming to a full salvation in our Lord Jesus. We don't expect our Partners to force their faith on anyone, nor make it a condition of being housed. The passion and vision for the ministry should come out of a desire to love others as you have been loved by Christ.
11. Do Green Pastures projects only house Christians?
No, our Partners house people of all faiths, or no faith, and without discrimination against anyone because of their ethnicity or sexuality. Green Pastures has, from the outset in Southport, housed people without discrimination or favour. We hope that by housing people in the property it will be an opportunity for them to experience the love and compassion of Jesus.
12. Do you purchase properties for specific individuals or families?
Talk to us about your vision - we will always listen. The main things we take into consideration are affordability and sustainability. We are in this for the long term.
13. I live in an area where property is very expensive. Can we still partner with Green Pastures?
Yes! We serve a God who can make all things possible (Matt 19:26). Whilst purchasing properties in expensive areas is more difficult, it is not impossible. God helps us find a way.
14. Does Green Pastures get involved in new build developments?
Yes, we do, from £100k-£15m, including non-residential. Our largest development to date was a £12m development - 59 No dwellings and a church with a community cafe. Developments are generally unrelated to Partners for whom we would normally buy on the open market. However, we would consider new builds for Partners if this was the best approach. Overall, we aspire to match the number of new builds to the number of houses we buy.
15. I feel God is saying to me that I need to start big with a large house housing 20 people, is that possible?
It is great that you are listening for God's prompting. This can be natural exuberance, though. We say to Partners "Do not despise the day of small beginnings" (Zac 4:10) and remember that if you do not have experience of housing people then you need to cut your teeth on something much smaller. For a new partnership we would normally look at buying a 3 or 4 bedroom property for the first purchase, unless you already have experience.
16. Does Green Pastures look after the tenants/ residents in the houses?
Not for Partners. You, the Partner, would do all of the local work with the people you are housing. We buy the property, provide advice and guidance every step of the way and visit you at least once a year to help encourage you, but your team will have the day-to-day relationship with your tenants/ residents. We at Green Pastures do also look after over 400 tenants directly, where there are no Partners involved, and we continue to grow in this area.
17. We don't have experience of housing people. Does that stop us from being a Partner?
Green Pastures started in 1999 with no experience just like many of our partners have. The most important thing is that you and your team have a heart for people spilling out of your love for Jesus. All other hurdles can be overcome!
18. Isn't there Health & Safety to consider? Do you have to document everything you do? How do we start with all of this?
Green Pastures, and our Partners, have a wealth of experience in this area and can provide template documents for all of these things. This is all part of the service that we provide our Partners with.
19. How many people need to be involved from our Church?
We've learnt that the secret of success is to build a great, dedicated team. Having more than one person in each area helps to cover holidays and sickness, as well as people moving on. There are three key areas where you will need good team members:
a. Resident Support (Pastoral Care): 3 hours of support per week per resident. We recommend 2 resident support team members plus a manager for 3 residents. As you grow, the same team could care for more residents.
b. Maintenance: 1-2 people, each able to contribute 2-5 hours per month per property. Alternatively, you may only need to manage contractors to carry out works.
c. Administration: 1-2 people, each able to contribute a minimum of 3-5 hours per week. This role will require more input in the first few months of the project.
20. How do I recruit a team?
People come forward when they are inspired by your vision. Once they hear the heart of the vision to look after the least, the lost and the lonely they will respond. Please let us know if you would like us to come and help you launch your project. Of course, paid staff are welcome, and become more critical, as the project grows.
21. What is it like housing homeless people? Does it present a risk? What changes do you see happening?
Your referral process includes setting the criteria for your residents at a level you feel comfortable with. Although they will all have support needs, you don't have to start with people who have very high levels of need.
Communal living is tough, and while people are learning the life skills to live together it can be challenging. However, the rewards of seeing growth and development in your residents as they change make it all worthwhile.
Part of the referral process is a risk assessment completed by one of your referral partners so you remain in control of who you invite into the house. This is your project and Green Pastures have no say in your referral decisions. However, most of our Partners would not take people straight off the streets to house them as they would not have any way of knowing what risks they represent. Most of our Partners accept referrals from temporary accommodation units such as hostels or night shelters. That is not to say that we would not work with you if you feel God is saying that you should take people living on the streets.
As for changes in the lives of people we house, we are continually blown away by the many positive changes we see happening in people's lives once they feel safe, valued, respected and loved. We see many people in our houses coming to faith in Jesus and we continually thank God for the great privilege of being able to lead people into a relationship with the Lord as their personal saviour!
22. Do you purchase properties to use as churches or places of worship, or properties that do not have accommodation?
Yes, please talk to us about your vision - we will always listen. The main thing things we take into consideration are affordability and sustainability. We are in this for the long term.
23. How long will we need to be committed to the project?
Our expectation is that your project is affordable and sustainable and we will work with you to make it a permanent ministry of your church or organisation. Succession planning is important. This means we will never ask for the property back. If necessary, we will take the property back if you require us to.
The lease is organised in 6-year periods, but this is only for administrative reasons so that land registry costs are avoided. In the unlikely event that things do go badly wrong, we are here, in partnership and as your family, to provide solutions.
24. Does the partnership have to be with my Church?
About half of our partners are individual churches. The other half is a mixture of local Christian organisations or separate charities (CIOs) or Social Enterprises (CICs). The legal entity you choose needs to be acceptable for the HB rent claim. We would expect you to have the support of your own church.