A national charity, founded in 2010, work with churches and investors to buy houses and provide friendship for homeless people.
Founder Ed Walker, from Peterborough, tried to help a man who had just been released from prison find somewhere to stay, but while many local homelessness services provide a place to sleep, very few offer somewhere to live long-term and companionship.
Nigel Goodenough, 44, is the executive director of Hope Into Action Mid Sussex, and first became aware of the programme in 2014 while working in supported housing with high risk offenders.
He said: “If we don’t meet people’s housing and basic everyday needs then we are not helping them enough.
“We buy houses and redecorate them to make them look really nice.
“If you put someone in subpar surroundings, you’re saying that’s how much you value them.
“We value our tenants and want them to feel valued, and we show them that when we give them somewhere lovely to live.”
The Hope Into Action scheme had 35 houses in 2010, and now has 75.
One of the problems with the Mid Sussex scheme, however, is the house prices in the south.
The Mid Sussex branch has bought two houses in Haywards Heath, and will have two houses ready by January, in Crawley and Burgess Hill.
Mr Goodenough said: “Tenants get befrienders, volunteers from the church, to help them with their problems.
A befriender can be for life if they want it to be.
“Although we’re working with churches, people don’t need to be religious to live in the houses.
“We just want to show we care for them and that’s it, there’s no pressure on them.”
People live three to a house, with house rules on alcohol, drugs, and visitors.
Mr Goodenough said: “The most important rules are to respect each other, the house, and the neighbours.
“We don’t tell the neighbours who’s living in the houses, but some find out.
“We don’t want to draw attention to the houses at all.”
The highlight of working at Hope Into Action, for Nigel, is the tenants.
He said: “Two tenants started growing vegetables and baking cakes for neighbours and family, and pay their rent every week, which is amazing to see when I saw how they used to live.”
Tenants usually stay for a maximum of two years, and during that time they come up with an action plan with Nigel to work on their problems.
He helps them with problems around relationships, careers, and substance abuse, asking them how they want to change.
He said: “We also visit tenants if they then go to prison, every two weeks, until they come out and support them through that.”
Nigel higlighted the problems around hidden homelessness in Mid Sussex, talking about one tenant who slept in his car for over a year.
He said: “One person’s relationship broke down after 15 years, and he started living in his car. “At first he thought it would just be for a short while but it ended up lasting for 15 months.
“His health deteriorated, the suspension went on his car, and all that time he was working full time.”
“We get lots of people who sofa surf too.”
He said the council has responded positively to the scheme, and they help to move tenants on to social housing once they leave Hope Into Action.
To find out more, visit their website.