A homeless mum and her three sons are living and sleeping in their car while they wait for Sheffield Council to find them a house.
Mother-of-three Kathleen Collins’ youngest son Patrick, aged 13, is being treated for mouth cancer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
But she and all three of her teenage boys are living and sleeping in their black Vauxhall Cavalier, washing in basins at public toilets in parks, while housing teams try to find them a property.
Kathleen, aged 37, told The Star: “We’re living like tramps. We’re living out of black bags.
“We’ve tried staying with people but we can’t do that all the time.
“So we’re sleeping in the car, parking it near public parks, so we can use the toilets in the parks.”
Most recent figures available, for April this year, show 79,995 people were on the Sheffield housing register, 12,750 of them active bidders.
Kathleen sought refuge in Sheffield after the family’s former home in Tamworth, Staffordshire, was burned down deliberately by arsonists.
She had lived in Sheffield before Patrick’s diagnosis with cancer, and left the city only to be close to her own relatives for support.
Kathleen, along with Patrick and his brothers Tom, 16, and Terry, 17, are now living in their car after being told by Sheffield Council they must wait 28 days before a home can be provided.
“It’s no way of living, especially when I’ve got a little boy who’s poorly,” said Kathleen. “My son’s had cancer.
“I had to keep ringing the council and they told me I’d have to wait. I asked them how they expect me to live.
“I am a mum and I’m on my own. I don’t care about myself, but it’s my kids I’m worried about.”
Sheffield Council has now promised to treat the case as a matter of urgency.
A spokeswoman said: “They won’t have to wait 28 days as they said they were told.
“The status has been changed so that the case is dealt with urgently.”
Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, added: “Sheffield Council makes sure the people with the greatest need are always given priority.
“We don’t operate a waiting list – we have a register open to anyone, resulting in high numbers of people on our list. Most important is that the housing that is available is given to those with the greatest social housing need.”