Susan Gill has been running a homeless café for almost three years. It opened thanks to a Neighbourhood Welfare Project as a place where people can have two-course meals, hot drinks, a shower and a clean change of clothes and serves around 100 homeless people a day.
Gill witnessed first-hand the struggles people who visit her café have to endure: “There isn’t enough mental health support. They are being housed, but they don’t have the support they need.”
The owner of the café said she had to report several landlords because “people haven’t had heat or water. One of them hasn’t had a toilet that works for three weeks”, and remarked: “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 think it’s disgusting to charge money when they don’t even have toilets.”Susan Gill, owner of a homeless café
In response to these temporary accommodation issues, Chris Cooke, the Labour councillor for Newport, 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 how chaotic it can be.”
The council aimed to tackle these problems with landlords by introducing a selective licencing scheme in parts of a Newport, which will inspect privately rented properties to ensure they comply with selective licencing conditions. This will tackle the issues with poor living conditions.
Councillor Ashley Waters is the executive member for regeneration and backs the scheme entirely, saying: “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.”