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Plans For modular homes schemes pick up pace

Modular Housing – Image by Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

At the end of August more than 600 families in Dublin were living in either hotels or homeless accommodation. This is excluding all the homeless sleeping rough on the streets of the city each night

To target this, the mayors of the four Dublin local authorities viewed exhibitions of modular housing, which have been put on display by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

Modular homes can take a number of different forms, but they are based around the principle of “stacking” individual modules together to form a house. They can be produced off site in a factory and can be assembled extremely quickly.

Speaking at the exhibition, the Director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive Cathal Morgan said that the industry has moved on “light years” in recent times. People used to view modular housing as a portacabin at the back of a school but this certainly isn’t the case now.

Morgan also stated that this form of housing is far better quality and far more cost effective then putting families and individuals into hotel rooms. He said these units could give families a “sense of normality” which can’t be achieved in a single hotel room. Any unused units could potentially be used as student accommodation, which is also a problem in the city.

Morgan believed that the modular housing could be rolled out as soon as mid-2016. This now looks all the more likely as the Fine Gael – Labour Government have backed the plan announcing that it would fast track planning and procurement.

The government believes that the first batch of homeless people put into these new homes could happen as early as Christmas.

Modular

Module Housing – Image by Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

Sinn Fein Councillor Daithi Doolan, who is also the head of Dublin City Council’s housing committee, has welcomed the acceleration of this scheme. Doolan believed that there was no way in which the homes would be up and running by 2016 if the plan hadn’t been fast tracked.

Estimates of the prices of these houses have been released from recent county council meetings but it is believed each house could cost in the region of €100,000, including site costs.

There is still a question around whether the government will buy these homes or lease them, Doolan has said recently. At the exhibition, a representative of one of the companies called PortaKabin said it would cost between €300 and €320 a week to rent its homes. This is less than hotel rooms, which Dublin City Council rents as emergency accommodation for homeless people.

Dublin City Council’s housing chief, Dick Brady, hasn’t yet said which sites the council has earmarked for the modular homes.

At a meeting, Brady said, “The process of identifying sites has started. The council is honing in on land that has the services, both water and sewage and that sort of thing.” The council ideally will be looking for places where there will be no need to build roads.

Councillors have stressed that these homes should only be seen as temporary. These modular homes are not being looked upon as a permanent solution to the homeless crisis but more as a temporary solution.

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