herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Plans to build 400 prefabs for homeless backed by Peter McVerry

Fr Peter McVerry and dog jack
Fr Peter McVerry and dog jack
Fr Peter McVerry

Homeless champion Fr Peter McVerry has backed proposals by Dublin City Council to construct hundreds of prefabs on vacant sites to tackle the homeless crisis.

The issue of prefabs or "modular housing" was considered by the Dublin Joint Homeless Consultative Forum at this month's meeting.

A plan to construct up to 400 prefabricated houses on vacant sites around the city could be adopted by the local authority.

"We have a crisis," Fr McVerry said. "You have to take every possible action that you can take to relieve the crisis. I have always supported the use of prefabs to get us through this crisis, and I continue to do that.

"I don't think they should become permanent. In other words, people need a proper house. If a prefab becomes a permanent alternative to a proper house, then I am not in favour.

"The crisis is not going to be resolved in the short term so I think for the next few years I would be in favour of as many prefabs as we could possibly put up," he told the Herald.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke said no decision has been finalised on the building of prefabs.

However, he said they are the short-term solution. He told the Herald the homeless task force considered a report on the issue.

Secure

A proposal in the report is two or three prefabs be built on an unknown site to demonstrate how they could be used, he said.

The controversial report said there could be sites in the future that could hold up to 400 units.

"There has to be a social housing program. The situation is only going to get worse," Mr Burke said.

Dublin city councillor Daithi Doolan has called for consultation in relation to any proposals to house homeless families in modular housing. A member of the council's housing strategic policy committee, he said that we are in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis in Dublin.

"All ideas must be put on the table, therefore I welcome any decent initiative that seeks to tackle this crisis.

"If these dwellings are up to standard and the sites are appropriate they should proceed. But in parallel to this initiative, the Government must introduce measures to control rents in the private sector and provide additional funds to the city council to purchase and construct permanent homes.

"This plan has been mooted without any consultation with elected councillors and we are seeking an urgent meeting with council management to discuss details," the Sinn Fein councillor said.

Fine Gael councillor Naoise O Muiri said 400 modular homes would have a big impact in tackling Dublin city's family homelessness problem.

"These units are typically factory-built and completed to the highest building and energy standards" said Mr O Muiri.

"They will provide secure and comfortable living quarters for many families who are currently housed in unsuitable emergency accommodation, including hostels, B&Bs and hotels.

"Factory-built housing is built elsewhere and assembled quickly, safely and efficiently on site," he said.

Dublin City Council did not provide a comment.

TERRY PRONE: PAGE 14

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