First 150 modular housing units for homeless to be fast-tracked

Housing could be in place in four months under Alan Kelly’s new procurement process

The four Dublin local authorities will view six samples of 'cellular modular housing', from six providers, which have gone on display. The factory built houses could provide temporary accommodation to the hundreds of homeless families in the city.

 

Some 150 units of modular housing for homeless families are to be sourced “on an emergency basis” under a new fast-tracked procurement process.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is establishing a new national procurement framework under which a first batch of the housing could be sourced and in place “within three to four months”, a senior source said on Tuesday night.

In all, up to 500 units, which will be an alternative to hotels and B&Bs, will be provided by the spring as family emergency accommodation in Dublin.

The source said the Minister wanted to get modular housing on to sites in Dublin “as soon as possible”.

The first 150 will be sourced “as speedily as possible” under the new process, with the remaining to be sourced under the normal procurement process.

Dublin City Council officials are identifying potential sites for the units.

The move comes as significant numbers of hotels and B&Bs indicate they will be asking homeless families to leave in coming weeks.

A source within the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said several hotels had “not been able to confirm they will be able to accommodate families over the Christmas period”. With the Christmas season due to begin at the end of next month, there was a “real” possibility of families being asked to leave in circumstances where there may be nowhere else in the Dublin area to place them.

Urgent

Already in recent weeks, rough-sleeper intake teams in Dublin have reported coming across families with children, on the streets and in cars, who had not been able to access emergency accommodation and whom they have diverted to hotels.

While the DRHE plans to open an extra 100 emergency beds for single adults as winter approaches – as part of its cold weather initiative – it currently has no alternatives to hotels and B&Bs for families.

Temporary

These figures have almost certainly increased. The remaining families were in supported temporary accommodation – ie designed to accommodate homeless families.

Concerns about the impact of the long term use of hotels and B&Bs on children have been raised by the Ombudsman for Children, the ISPCC, the Housing Agency and charities in the sector.

At a meeting with DRHE officials on Tuesday, housing and homelessness NGOs were positive about modular housing.

The plans will be discussed at a meeting of the Dublin Joint Homelessness Consultative Forum on Thursday. At its June meeting the forum formally adopted plans to “develop and propose a modular housing typology” which called for the provision of 400 such units at sites across the four local authorities.

Housing campaigned Fr Peter McVerry has called for the provision of 1,000 units “as soon as possible”.

The Minister’s spokesman said the new national procurement framework would initially be used by Dublin City Council in the provision of modular housing.

“It can be followed by other local authorities facing housing supply issues also,” he said.