Prefabs may be used to tackle housing crisis in Dublin

City Council is ‘seriously looking’ at building prefabs on derelict sites to house families

Dublin City Council is “seriously looking” at building prefabs on derelict sites to house homeless families.

Assistant chief executive and head of housing Dick Brady has also called for rent control and for a stay on banks repossessing buy-to-let homes.

Mr Brady said the number of families becoming homeless keeps growing and must be stabilised. The only form of emergency accommodation for families is hotels in which there are serious child-safety concerns.

“That’s no place for families to be living. Child protection is a huge issue,” he said.


At the moment 156 families, with 341 children, live in Dublin hotels, compared with 143 families with 299 children in June.

While the council estimated earlier this year it would spend €4.5 million on emergency hotel accommodation for families, Mr Brady said yesterday he expected that would be exceeded.

“If things get worse I respectfully suggest we may be looking at temporary solutions like the provision of temporary accommodation. I’m talking about some form of cellular accommodation on vacant sites: prefabs. We are seriously looking at . . . what kind of unit we might use here and how it might happen.”

He said the types of prefabs being looked at were thermo-insulated, had windows and would offer families privacy, cooking facilities and separate sleeping and living areas.

“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.”

Asked where they might be, he said the council had drawn up an inventory of derelict sites. Pressed, he said: “The actual location . . . the minute I would suggest it, there would be opposition.”

The numbers presenting had to be stemmed to give housing authorities space and time to address the housing supply crisis, he said. He called for rents to be controlled or indexed against the cost of living.

“There is a case for some form of rental indexation. There is also a case for trying to persuade our banking friends to move away from receiverships on buy-to-let properties and to put in, even on a temporary basis, a system of rent receivers, so the banks can take the property back, but leave the tenants in the properties and use the rent to keep the properties going.

“That needs to be done now because there’s no building going on and that is pushing the house inflation and an awful lot of it is repossessed properties. That has collateral damage.

“People living in these properties are being pushed back out into our services. We need to stop that, to at least give us time to stabilise the situation so other ideas in relation to housing outputs can be put in place.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times