In an emergency push the Irish government is to provide 500 modular houses to homeless families as the number of homeless children in Dublin has more than doubled in the past year
Ireland’s environment minister Alan Kelly said the housing crisis was "the single biggest issue facing the country" when he announced the unprecedented intervention yesterday.
Such is the urgency that the government wants 22 three-bedroom factory-made homes erected in Dublin before Christmas, according to a tender notice.
Another 128 homes will be provided shortly after, followed by 350 more under a national framework costed at $45m (€40m), reports The Irish Times.
"The housing market in Dublin was ruined during the recession and this sector is not recovering quickly enough to keep up with demand," Kelly said in a statement.
"Therefore, as a temporary measure while supply is coming on stream, I will be funding the delivery of 500 modular units for families in Dublin experiencing homelessness."
Figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive showed that during the week of 21-27 September there were 1,343 children in 637 families in emergency accommodation in Dublin, more than double the figures for children and families from the previous September.
On a given night in September 2015 more than 400 families were housed in commercial hotels in the Dublin region, the executive said.
According to the tender notice, the first 22 houses will be three-bedroom, two-storey units for five people and should be ready for occupation by mid-December.
The tender notice describes the project as "a pilot for the design, manufacture, supply of rapid delivery housing units".
In a statement, Dublin City Council said it welcomed the announcement and "awaits detail and further communication" from Kelly’s department.
Councillors will be called to a meeting on the evening of 29 October to be briefed on the pilot projects.
When the idea of making low rent modular housing available to the homeless was raised last year by Richard Brady, the council’s director of housing services, it was controversial but as the number of families presenting themselves to homeless services grew, the proposal gained wider acceptance.
Photograph: Six designs of modular house were put on show by Dublin council last month (Dublin Regional Homeless Executive)