Charities want prefabs to tackle homeless crisis

Fr Peter McVerry at the Modular House Solutions in Dublin that councils hope will solve homeless crisis. Pictures: Fergal Phillips

Prefabricated homes must become part of the solution to the homeless crisis before winter sets in, the Peter McVerry Trust has urged.

The homeless and housing charity wants the Government to declare an emergency to get the modular housing on available sites before Christmas.

The trust was one of a number of homeless charities invited by the four Dublin local authorities to see a modular housing demonstration project on the city’s northside yesterday.

There are six two-bedroom modular units on site and all are designed to accommodate families. Fr McVerry said the units were well made and insulated to a high standard.

Charities want prefabs to tackle homeless crisis

Fr Peter McVerry at the Modular House Solutions in Dublin. 

“I fully support the use of modular housing as a temporary solution to homelessness. I have seen today high-quality, well-designed, well-finished units that will make good homes,” he said.

The Peter McVerry Trust has called for emergency powers to be given to local authorities to ensure the units can be delivered before next summer.

The charity’s chief executive, Pat Doyle, said they wanted to see the modular housing start to come on stream before Christmas.

“Our concern is that, without the power to fast-track through the planning and procurement procedures, we won’t see any modular housing until summer 2016 at the earliest,” he said.

In August, there were 607 families in all forms of emergency accommodations — 203 were in emergency homeless accommodation and 404 were in commercial hotels.

 

Depaul, another homeless charity invited to see the demonstration project, gave the modular housing proposal a cautious welcome. Director of services David Carroll said consideration must be given to the location of the modular units.

Charities want prefabs to tackle homeless crisis

RoanKabin, an Irish-based manufacturer and supplier of modular building solutions, presenting its housing unit at the Modular Housing Demonstration Project at a site on the East Wall Road. Pic: Colm Mahady / Fennell Photography.

“It is vital that families are integrated within the wider community and have access to the supports needed to address the very issues that led to their homeless situation,” he said.

Mr Carroll said the modular units must only be seen as a temporary alternative to having families living in hotels.

Charities want prefabs to tackle homeless crisis

The significant investment that would be needed must come from sources other than the current commitment to social housing, he added.

“As its stands, only 9% of Ireland’s housing stock is provided by social housing, which is a paltry amount in comparison to the Netherlands’ 33%,” Mr Carroll said.

Charities want prefabs to tackle homeless crisis

Tánaiste Joan Burton said the quality of the modular structures on display looked good.

She said prefabricated units used by schools had survived decades and the quality of some of those structures was very good.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who described the quality of the units as “excellent”, said he expects to receive a usage analysis from Dublin City Council next week.


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