Modular homes set to house 22 homeless families
At least 22 homeless families will be housed in so-called modular houses by Christmas after the Government approved a €40m investment in 500 units.
Around 150 will be delivered under a fast-track procurement process, and the remainder over 2016, Environment Minister Alan Kelly said.
The move comes as figures from September show there are 3,428 adults and 1,571 children living in emergency accommodation across the State - a rise on August. Of these, 738 are families, with the vast majority - at 637 - in the capital.
The modular homes will be used across the four Dublin local authorities, and councils have been directed to use fast-track planning powers so they can be in place as quickly as possible.
Dublin City Council has sought tenders to deliver 22 two-storey units on a site in north Dublin, which will include three bedrooms and are designed to accommodate five people.
The closing date for receipt of tenders is next November 2, and the homes must be ready for occupation by December 21.
"These units will be, by and large, used to help people who are in difficulty as regards housing in the Dublin area in particular... I've directed the local authorities to ensure they deliver this as quickly as absolutely possible," Mr Kelly said.
The prefabricated houses can be assembled within days and include bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and storage facilities. They must last for at least 60 years, and must be capable of being expanded to provide more living accommodation.
"Kitchen, dining and living room areas should be designed to have as much natural light incorporated into the design as possible and take into account the orientation of the sun in relation to the main living rooms," tender documents add.
Families housed in the units will not be considered as being housed on a permanent basis, and will remain on local authority waiting lists.
Homeless mum Erica Fleming (30) has been living in a northside Dublin hotel with her nine-year-old child since June - but she does not believe that the new modular homes are the answer to the housing crisis.
"There is plenty of actual houses, real houses, that are boarded up. So the Government should start by taking the boards down and getting homeless families into them.
"They say it is a temporary measure. But emergency accommodation was only supposed to be a temporary resolution.
"If they are going to pump all this money into modular housing, then there is not a hope that they are going to take you out of that modular house after 18 months. Why would they?" she said.