PEOPLE living in temporary accommodation are having to go without necessities like heating, water and even a toilet, according to the woman who runs Middlesbrough’s homeless café.

Susan Gill, who runs Susan's Homeless Café and Hub said some of the people who visited her café, which is currently only open for takeaways because of the lockdown, were forced to go to the toilet outside because landlords are not maintaining homes.

Because of Covid-19, most people are being housed in temporary accommodation, said Ms Gill.

“This is the first time they’ve been housed,” she said. “I’m so grateful.

“But we have some landlords I’ve had to report because people haven’t had heat or water.

“One of them hasn’t had a toilet that works for three weeks.

“I think it’s disgusting to charge money when they don’t even have toilets. They’ll take the money but the homes aren’t liveable.

“I’m really angry about it.”

She added she knew of some people who were being forced to go to the toilet in back alleys, while another girl was using a bucket for six weeks.

Meanwhile, some of the people who visit the café resort to using their kettle to try and heat beans because they have no other way of cooking.

About 70 people visit the café each day, where they can get a two course meal and hot drinks.

It has been running for about three years and came out of Neighbourhood Welfare project, which was set up in 2012, and followed a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, running since 2007. It also has an area where people can have showers and get a clean change of clothes.

Ms Gill said people were struggling due to a lack of support.

Three people who use the café have died this year due to overdoses, she said, including one person who died on Thursday.

She said: “There isn’t enough mental health support. They are being housed but they don’t have the support they need.

“They do need the help. These are young lives we’re talking about."

The charity has also been dealing with rising costs because of Covid, as all the meals have to be served in takeaway containers.

Ms Gill, who was named as Middlesbrough's citizen of the year in 2020, added: “It’s a struggle to keep going during Covid. We rely on six month funding grants which is nothing.

“These takeaway boxes are expensive. Sometimes people have five cups of tea and they don’t bring the cups back.

“It takes a lot of funding to keep it up. When we get back to washing plates it will so much easier.”

She is also calling for action to make sure Middlesbrough’s homeless population receives the Covid-19 vaccination, pointing out that most will not be registered with GPs.

Chris Cooke, who is a Labour councillor for Newport, deals with issues with temporary accommodation on a regular basis, with five or six having no heating last month because of boiler problems.

He said: "There is a huge issue with temporary housing not being suitable.

"One of the reasons people present as homeless is because of the standard of accommodation.

"It's a tough ward. There have been a few deaths recently that highlight the issue of how chaotic it can be."

One approach taken by the council to tackle problem landlords has been to use closure orders on houses where antisocial behaviour and crime was an issue.

Cllr Cooke added: "These landlords should not be housing anyone because they are not showing the level of care or attention for the properties or the people inside them."

He has called for a selective licensing scheme in place in parts of Newport to be extended across the ward.

The scheme means the council inspects privately rented properties within the designated area to check with compliance with selective licensing conditions.

It is aimed at tackling problems with poor living conditions and high numbers of empty properties.

This week, Middlesbrough Borough Council agreed to extend a similar scheme in North Ormesby. 

The council’s executive heard the scheme was making a difference and could be extended to other parts of the town.

Councillor Ashley Waters, executive member for regeneration, said he was fully behind it. He said: “It’s no secret I wasn’t a huge fan of selective licensing. I thought it could have been a lot stronger. But when you look through and see the reports and intervention, the work with police and street wardens to improve the area.

“I think its a no brainer that have to bring it forward and go at it. The guys who work there brilliant.”

He added: “This is a really proactive service and works really well with the residents and landlords.

“We’re always going to have bad landlords but this gives us the power to work with landlords.”