Plan for prefabricated homes for Dublin homeless shelved

Emergency home plan meant imperative over modular housing had passed, housing chief says

Proposals to construct 200 prefabricated houses for homeless people on vacant sites around Dublin city have been shelved by Dublin City Council.

The council was proposing to build “modular housing” that would be prefabricated off-site and erected rapidly on publicly owned land at an estimated cost of more than €20 million.

Preliminary approval for the plan was to be sought from Dublin city councillors today (Thurs), but the council's head of housing Dick Brady has written to councillors, who are members of the city's housing committee, to cancel the meeting.

In his letter, Mr Brady said the recent Government announcement in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation and other housing for homeless people meant the imperative to consider the use of “low cost modular housing” had passed.

He said the topic would be included “in an agenda for consideration in the 2015 programme of meetings”.

Councillors had been uneasy about the prospect of using prefabs to address the homeless crisis since their use was first mooted by Mr Brady last September as an alternative to housing homeless families in hotels.

“I would rather see people living as families in that form of accommodation than in a hotel, where they have nowhere to cook and families are sharing bedrooms,” he said.

Common perception

Dublin Region Homeless Executive said while the units would be prefabricated and then assembled on the council’s land, they would not be “prefabs” in the common perception of the word.

“This isn’t ‘cheap’ housing. These units would be of the highest standard, with an A energy rating, and would comply fully with the building standards in the Dublin City Development Plan. It’s just a construction method that would provide a large number of units quickly,” Dr Daithí Downey, deputy director of the executive said.

The 200 units would have cost about €100,000-€150,000 each, but would provide long-term housing for people in acute need. “This is a far better use of money than the more than €4.5 million that will be spent on keeping people in hotels this year,” he said.

The Government last week announced a €25 million plan to tackle homelessness, including funding for additional emergency beds, a night cafe for homeless people, free transport to available hostels and a commitment to purchase a hotel under the control of Nama for an accommodation and assessment centre for homeless families.

The measures follow the death earlier this month of homeless man Jonathan Corrie (43) a short distance from Leinster House.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times