Edinburgh couple ‘breathless’ after being returned to homeless housing

An Edinburgh couple who became homeless after their car was taken off the road recounted how they faced vile homophobia after being ‘bounced’ into temporary accommodation.

Caregiver Jonathan Landau-Letwinski said he and his partner Lee Riches were “struggling” before their vehicle – which has since been written off – passed its roadworthiness test last year, leaving them unable to pay the rent on their home. Rosyth.

They have since returned to the capital, but found themselves stranded in five different types of temporary accommodation with no kitchen or laundry room – forcing them to survive on cheesy toast made with foil and an iron.

The couple, who both suffer from poor mental health, survived a deportation attempt earlier this week but were told they had to wait at least three years for a council house with no family to which turn for help.

But Jonathan said the stress of the situation left them “on edge” and struggled to work part-time as caregivers for vulnerable people.

“We were considered temporarily homeless last February, but that night we had to sleep in the car because they had nowhere to go,” he recalls.

“Since then we’ve just bounced back in different places. I think this is the fifth different temporary accommodation that we are in and it is not sustainable.

“I have terrible attendance at work because I don’t know where I’m going to travel.

“We were told on Monday that the board had booked us, but they kind of backed off because we got in touch with our MSP and Shelter.

“But we’re just on edge at this point. We just feel trapped in uncertainty.

Jonathan said conditions at some of the temporary accommodation facilities were “extremely intimidating” with staff often reacting aggressively to them after finding out they were in a relationship.

But he also said the lack of social distancing at the start of the pandemic left him worried about his health and that of the vulnerable people he cares for.

“There was no kitchen or washing machine and by then everything had started to close,” he said.

“I had to wash my work clothes in the shower and my colleagues had started to notice. I was losing weight and just looked a little dirty.

“No one there had social distancing, no one was wearing masks, it was just a mess and it put me in danger because my job is to take care of the elderly and vulnerable.

“But there was homophobia on the part of the staff. They were from a completely different culture, we felt extremely intimidated, their whole attitude just changed when they found out we were a couple.

“They slammed doors in our face, avoided us, it was just awful to be inside.”

Housing chiefs have warned the couple that they have to wait a long time for any kind of accommodation with local authorities after being accommodated in their current hotel until September 1.

Beyond that date, Jonathan admitted their future was uncertain, especially after the car he needed for vital home visits was written off in a collision with another driver.

They have now started a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising money to live on from a reduction in his working hours.

“They told us we had to wait up to three years for a council house,” he said.

“I’ve been suicidal about it, we can’t wait that long at this point.

“I’m surprised I still have a job at the moment, but I’m already working part-time as it is, but they are getting smaller and smaller. “

He added: “If we can get any help it could be life changing but so far we have been contacted by a scammer which is really disheartening.

“Lee is separated from his family. We have nowhere to go and I don’t know where we are going from here.

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