Tina and Winston Reid, both 54, fear they will die as temperatures fall in coming weeks, as they live in a Mercedes in Essex
A homeless couple forced to live in their car for two months fear they could die when temperatures plummet this month.
A housing shortage means Tina and Winston Reid, both 54, had nowhere to live after a landlord sold the home they were renting and a sewage problem drove them from a caravan
The pair – who both rely on benefits – are worried they will freeze in the car, but say they can’t afford to waste petrol on heating.
It comes as the Met Office issued warnings today of snow, with strong winds and icy conditions across much of the UK.
Their situation has become so desperate that Tina said she has tried to take her own life.
She said: “I’m on Employment Support Allowance and my husband is on Universal Credit, and we have to use that money to stay in rooms for a night where we can, just to get out of the cold.
“We have both been to A&E recently – I was there because I tried to take my own life, I couldn’t take it any more.
My husband was there because of his back, it’s painful being in the car.”
The couple had been living in a caravan in Thurrock, Essex before the sewage problem drove them away, making them homeless.
Tina said: “Thurrock Council told us they were unable to find housing for us as we haven’t been living there long enough.
My daughter, who is 33, lived in the caravan next to us with her three children who were 13, five, and three months old at the time.
“They had the sewage problem too, but as she has children she was rehomed in Thurrock.
“The stench was horrible, we couldn’t wash or shower or go to the toilet.
“We were going over to Sainsbury’s just to wash, change our clothes and brush our teeth. After three months I couldn’t take it any more.”
Since then they have been living out of Winston’s Mercedes in Mersea, Essex, where Tina’s parents live.
With the cold weather coming, they are worried they may die in the car if they do not find housing soon
While living in the caravan, Tina had spent about a year trying to bid for housing in Mersea but without success.
The couple ended up driving to Mersea so Tina could be closer to her parents.
She said: “My dad has dementia and my mum uses a walking stick – they live in a one-bed flat so there is no room for us there.
“Colchester Council said they would assist me in finding private housing. I have called around 40 houses but they won’t take us as we don’t have a guarantor and they ask for so much money upfront.
“I’ve even been looking at studio flats, or single rooms.”
Tina has been sleeping in the back of the Mercedes, while Winston takes the front seat.
The couple drive around to supermarkets and public car parks around the island, where they will stay for the night.
Tina has never worked due to ill health, but Winston was a bricklayer before the ordeal happened.
Tina is worried he may never be able to work again due to his deteriorating condition.
Tina added: “We go to Beacon House in Colchester sometimes and they have done so much for us. Winston is 55 this year and when you reach 55 you’re entitled to sheltered housing.
“However his birthday is in May and we could be dead by then. I’m worried we are going to die here.”
A spokesman for Colchester Borough Homes said all cases are dealt with under the relevant legislation but it could take up to two years for some people to get a home.
He said: “It is difficult to determine the length of time an applicant will have to wait for specific property types to become available, as applicants are able to decide this by bidding on properties.
“In general, most applicants wait in excess of 18 to 24 months.”
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