PROPOSALS to use prefabricated “modular housing” units to house people who are currently in emergency accommodation have been backed by the Peter McVerry Trust.
Following the launch of a demonstration of modular housing hosted by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on Tuesday, September 15 at a site on East Wall Road, the trust has called for emergency powers to be given to local authorities to ensure units can be delivered before next summer.
A number of companies which specialise in modular housing provision are demonstrating their designs at the site, for the benefit of the mayors, chief executives, senior housing staff and housing strategic policy committee chairs of the four Dublin local authorities.
The purpose of the demonstration is to give local authorities an idea of the nature of modular housing so they can make an informed opinion on whether or not to back proposals for up to 250 modular housing units to be built on 20 vacant sites in Dublin as a short-term measure to house people that are currently living in emergency accommodation.
The fact that these houses can be assembled on-site in a matter of days and could be available to families within the next three to six months is one of the main reasons it is being considered.
The components of modular buildings can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing a wide variety of configurations and styles in the building layout.
After viewing the demonstration, Peter McVerry Trust chief executive Pat Doyle said that there had been concerns about the quality, cost, and delivery times of modular housing, but the test site had alleviated these concerns.
Fr Peter McVerry himself spoke positively of the proposal, saying: “I fully support the use of modular housing as a temporary solution to homelessness. I have seen high-quality, well-designed, well-finished units that will make good homes.”
Doyle went on to say that the Government must call a state of emergency on homelessness in order to get modular housing on stream before Christmas.
Chair of Dublin City Council’s housing committee, Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF), also backed the proposals, but stressed that it must only be a short-term measure.
He said: “Putting families in hotels and B&Bs is unacceptable and unsustainable. We must be solution-focused and imaginative in our response to the current crisis in Dublin. The homes I saw meet all the required building and environmental standards.”
He went on to call on Environment Minister Alan Kelly to introduce legislation that allows local authorities to speed up the procurement process to allow Dublin City Council to move quickly on the proposal.
He also called on Dublin City Council to begin the process of identifying sites, negotiate funding from the Department of Environment and commence planning as quickly as possible.
“The sooner we move people out of emergency accommodation, the better for families. But this is not the long-term solution. Mister Kelly and his Government must release funding to allow Dublin City Council to build social housing as soon as possible,” said Cllr Doolan.
Sites for social housing in Dominick Street, Sackville Avenue and Belcamp were submitted this week for funding approval from the Department of Environment, in what Cllr Doolan has described as a test of the promises made recently by Minister Kelly to support the council in its housing projects.