Modular housing to cost more than bricks and mortar

I have criticised news that the cost of 22 new modular units in Ballymun would cost a total of 4.2 million euro, which he said was more than it would cost to build real social housing with bricks and mortar. The site in question in Ballymun had already been developed with a plan for houses to be built there in the future.

We are in an emergency in relation to homelessness and accommodation for homeless people, but that does not mean we act without any thought. We need housing right now for these families who currently are stuck in hotels and B&B’s, but short term accommodation which is more expensive than a brick and mortar house which will last for decades, makes no sense.

We also have concerns for that the firm award to contract to provide these units currently has four of its previous contracts audited for fire safety. Such an investigation must be considered very strongly when continuing with a contract worth millions, which is supposed to provide secure and safe temporary housing for families. Safety is of the utmost importance.

I am calling on the Minister to review the Ballymun site in question given the work already done to provide real housing in this area and the fact that these units will be costing nearly 15,000 euro more than the Department of Environment and others say a new social housing build would cost. I fear the government are using modular housing to further avoid their responsibility to deliver housing. In the first six months of the year, the Department of Environment says just 20 social houses were built.

If modular housing is to be used to help homeless families it needs to be safe and well planned, but also not block the construction of brick and mortar social housing which is desperately needed.

New homeless places welcome, but tenants need protection

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Environment that 175 new places for those in need of emergency accommodation will be made available this winter, but said more needs to be done to stem the flow of renters into homelessness. He said rent controls which would immediately begin to reduce rents and limit future increases were essential to stemming the rising homeless numbers.

Deputy Ellis said:

I, of course, welcome any new emergency beds especially in Dublin were rough sleeping as increased steadily in 2015. We still have about 130 people sleeping rough in Dublin and about 40 sleeping on the floor of the Merchants Quay Night Cafe. These people need a roof over their head and somewhere safe away from the cold of the Irish winter.

However, new emergency beds will only meet the demand at best as we are seeing new families become homeless every day. This is due to soaring rents which have increased across the state by 10.2% this year alone. The only thing that can be done right now to stem this tide of new people becoming homeless is to protect tenants from losing their home.

“This can be done by implementing rent control measures which will set a standard rate for local areas based on size along the lines of the successful Berlin model. We can then limit rent increases in the future by linking them to inflation and the Consumer Price Index. We must also protect tenants from unfair eviction, promote longer tenancies and educate tenants on their rights and ensure landlords obey their responsibilities to tenants.

With stabilised rents through these measures, we could increase Rent Supplement payments to align closer to market rates.

These measures would protect tenants in the short term and give time for new social housing to come on stream but only if the government is willing to increase its commitments to invest in social housing considerably. 1750 new homes by 2018 is simply not good enough.