Further delay in modular housing scheme in Dublin

Focus Ireland, and other homelessness organisations, have expressed “alarm” at further likely delays in the delivery of modular housing units in the capital, because the initial tender has been withdrawn.

Further delay in modular housing scheme in Dublin

The €20m tender was cancelled by Dublin City Council, due to insufficient applications.

The first tranche of 22 modular homes, in Poppintree, in Ballymun, was supposed to have been completed by Christmas, but work is continuing, with latest indications that they may be finished this month.

Another 131 homes, at four other sites around Dublin, were due to be completed this year, but will now be significantly delayed, despite both Dublin City Council and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive stressing that a fresh competition would take place, possibly as early as next month.

According to the local authority: “It was a condition of the competition that the successful applicants must be in a position to complete the development(s) within a maximum period of 16 calendar weeks, from the contract commencement to substantial completion on-site, and in any event by June 30, 2016’.

“The council received an insufficient number of applicants, who confirmed that they would be able to meet the deadline in order to conduct a competition. The council considers that the deadline is no longer achievable.”

Reacting to the news, Dublin Simon said: “With 769 families homeless in Dublin, very disappointing to hear that modular homes will not go ahead.”

Of those families, 553 are in hotels and 216 in homeless accommodation.

David Hall, of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation, queried whether the modular housing project was “a pre-election stunt”.

The latest setback also prompted Focus Ireland to call on the next government — whatever its composition — to take all necessary steps to alleviate the crisis. Another 125 families become homeless in Dublin in January.

Focus Ireland advocacy and communications manager, Roughan MacNamara, said: “This crisis is not DCC’s fault, as they are struggling to cope, with more and more families becoming homeless every month. It is vital that the next government — whoever makes it up — learns the lessons from how this crisis deepened to an emergency situation.”

He said his organisation’s pre-Budget submission, in 2012, forecasted the housing crisis. An average of 60 families present as homeless, to Focus Ireland family services in Dublin, every month.

“The continued, massive rise in family homelessness is due to the prolonged crisis in the private rented sector,” he said.

“One key aspect of this crisis is lending agencies foreclosing on buy-to-let landlords and then evicting the tenants. The repossession of buy-to-let landlords, often by banks owned by the Irish people, is a growing phenomenon and may account for up to half the recent cases of family homelessness. There are more than 35,000 buy-to-let landlords who are more than a year in arrears on their mortgages, and we have been warning government about this impending problem for over three years.”

He said outgoing Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, had included this issue in his ‘20 point plan’ on homelessness, in December, 2014, but “no response whatsoever has been put in place to deal with the issue”.

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