Lewes District Churches HOMELINK was set up in the late 1990s in response to rapidly increasing homelessness, to help people who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, by organising a local interest-free rent deposit scheme.
A Section 21 Notice is the notice which a landlord must give to their tenant to begin the process to take possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy without providing a reason for wishing to take possession
Who HOMELINK Helps
- HOMELINK works in partnership with Lewes District Council (LDC) and other agencies to help those threatened by eviction and homelessness
- We offer interest-free loans to cover the deposit and rent in advance, to help those who LDC has no duty to house into private rented accommodation
- The scheme helps local applicants of all faiths and none who are able to live independently and manage a tenancy
Applicants do not need to have been served a Section 21 Eviction Notice, but must have good cause to need our help e.g. street homelessness, sofa-surfing, overcrowding or
abusive/strained present circumstances.
Applicants should have been resident in the Lewes District for the last 6 months or have direct family connections here. Exception is made for those leaving HMP Lewes or the armed forces and victims of domestic violence. We will consider local applicants who wish to move elsewhere in East or West Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
HOMELINK is a registered charity led by a Board of Trustees and run by a Management Committee, all of whom are volunteers. Other volunteers help in a number of roles
(in the office, interviewing applicants, co-ordination, fundraising, etc).
We employ a small team of 5 part-time staff including our Client Managers who manage all aspects of the application process.
Our office is in the House of Friendship in Lewes, and interviews are conducted in Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford.
The ecumenical CNHC (Churches National Housing Coalition) was formed nationally to address the sudden increase in visible homelessness.
In Lewes District a handful of people formed a local Action Group, chaired by the Revd Jim Cooper from Seaford. They became aware of the invisible homeless – people who needed help because they fell through the net of statutory provision: they didn’t qualify for help from the Council, had no savings and no home; they were often sofa surfing or sleeping in cars
A Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme to offer rent in advance and damage deposits, given as guarantees to landlords, was established by Lewes District Churches Together with vital financial underpinning by the Mettyear Trust. A steering group was set up and …
…HOMELINK was born, launched at the Sacred Heart Church in Newhaven.
- Charitable status was gained in February 1998
- Our first Co-ordinator, Anna Dawney of St Anne’s, Lewes, was appointed
- Administrative structures were set up by Ann Cross, assisted by Lewes District Council (LDC), to mirror the LDC scheme
- House of Friendship in Lewes offered free use of their office
- Further financial underpinning was provided by many local people
- The first tenant moved in and, with ups and downs, after a slow start, HOMELINK has continued to help more and more people
A Loan Scheme was set up to replace guarantees, mirroring the LDC scheme.
HOMELINK extended the Loan Scheme to cover mentored ex-offenders on their release from Lewes Prison.
As HOMELINK settled into equilibrium with income and loans the financial crisis struck and loan applications rocketed.
Over 2,500 people have been helped into accommodation by HOMELINK; a part-time paid Client Manager and Assistant Client Manager are employed, with salaries funded by grants and a legacy from a kind donor. Everything else is done by volunteers, who interview applicants, raise funds, help in the office and manage the charity.
Demand for HOMELINK’s services has increased sharply; we now employ a team of 5 part-time paid staff with continued support from a team of volunteers.