400 prefabricated houses to be built for Dublin’s homeless

Move comes six months after similar plan was cancelled due to political opposition

Dublin City Council’s Dick Brady cancelled the plans for 200 houses six months ago as the focus went on rough sleeping after the death of Jonathan Corrie. However, pressure has since mounted on the organisation to provide solutions for the family homelessness crisis. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Dublin City Council’s Dick Brady cancelled the plans for 200 houses six months ago as the focus went on rough sleeping after the death of Jonathan Corrie. However, pressure has since mounted on the organisation to provide solutions for the family homelessness crisis. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Dublin City Council is planning to construct up to 400 prefabricated houses on vacant sites around the city as a means of tacking the escalating family homelessness crisis.

The move comes six months after proposals to erect 200 such “cellular modular houses” were cancelled by the council’s head of housing, Dick Brady amid political opposition to the plan.

It was also decided at the time to prioritise tackling rough sleeping after the death of homeless man, Jonathan Corrie (43) outside Leinster House.

Since January however Dublin City Council, as the lead local authority managing homelessness services in the capital, has come under increasing pressure to come up with solutions to the family homelessness crisis.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said in April that Dublin City councillors were not co-operating with council officials or his department on tackling family homelessness.

This was after councillors rejected plans to refurbish 64 vacant flats in O’Devaney Gardens to accommodate homeless families at a cost of €5 million.

Cellular modular housing

At its most recent meeting, on June 3rd, the Dublin Joint Homelessness Consultative Forum (DJHCF) formally adopted a plan to “develop and propose a modular housing typology that can develop and rapidly construct quality housing units to required standards”.

Cellular modular housing is fabricated off-site and is then erected rapidly on-site. It complies with all building regulations and can be high-quality housing.

The plan, adopted by the DJHCF, is among a range of “priority actions”, to be completed by the end of the year, contained in its business plan for 2015.

All Dublin local authorities are represented on the forum along with such groups as the HSE, the Probation Service and the Department of Social Protection.

The plan says the prefabricated units should be able to be “scaled up to allow higher densities and volumetric provision sufficient to provide 400 units of housing. This action is understood as a temporary intervention which should be in place whilst housing supply recovers.”

A plan to construct such housing was first mooted in September when Mr Brady told The Irish Times growing concerns about child welfare necessitated alternatives to emergency hotel accommodation.

“That’s no place for families to be living. Child protection is a huge issue,” he said at the time. Then, there were 156 families, with 341 children in such accommodation.

183 per cent increase

Now, according to the most recent figures there are 442 families with 970 children in emergency shelter. This represents a 183 per cent increase in the number of families and 184 per cent increase in the number of children in nine months.

Figures released last month also show the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is spending €750,000 a month on emergency hotel accommodation for families.