Thank you to Fingal Housing Crisis Community for putting this great photo together.
Since Modular Housing was first announce member groups in the Irish Housing Network have expressed grave concern at the idea of modulars. Here is my quick take on a few problems with the scheme
1) Modulars V Opening Voids & Other Vacants
As the picture shows, the first go of modulars will now cost 247,000 per unit. Opening up and doing up voids would be a lot cheaper. There are literally hundred of voids in some areas and single digits in others. Voids are council owned already, could employ decent union labour to do them up, and could be ready to go quicker then the 6 month wait on modulars.
Voids are council owned there are also countless vacant and derelict buildings owned by other public agencies, NAMA private landowners and companies also. The public assets could be put to use straight away, the private could be served compulsory purchase orders if vacant for more then a year? No homes should be empty while people are homeless
2) Modulars V Houses on the Market.
As the picture shows a three bed in Fingal cost 100,000 less on the open market to buy then the cost of producing a modular home. This is an instant purchase and means you are in a home in a week. What if the govornment bought on bulk or used NAMA to buy these properties and hand them over to the state? What if they forced a discount in the interest of the public good? Instant homes, cheaper then modulars.
3) Tenancy Rights, Forever Homes and Conditions.
Modular Homes create a space in between emergency accommodation and a home, private rental, social housing or a mortgage. You have no tenancy right in Modular homes. They are stated to be temporary so what happens after the 3 to 6 month wait and there is no home to go to? Do they become semi permanent for families but striped of your rights, a contract and security? Will there still be council workers coming out to check if your a good little homeless person, no causing a mess or kicking up a fuss?
Normalising Homeless rather then building secure and stable homes is not madness, incompetence or something we just have to do cause it’s a crisis. They serve two very clear purposes for the ruling class.
- a) They force people to keep their heads down. If you are in a secure home you can fight for your rights in a stronger position. If you are in homelessness you are one call away from time on the street and from your kids being threatened to be taken from you. You are pushed to the edge of society and they ruling class think then you will be easier to control. There is also a social stigma, you are a homeless person, you are different, you are hopeless. Finally they also create and entrench a hierarchy. The worse of the worse are on the street, the next in a shit hostel or b&b, the next in a decent place, then the best will be in modular of the homeless. This best or worse keeps people in line and forces them to fight each other rather then focus their anger to the causes, the state, the developers, the landlords and the rich.
- b) It forces conditions down. Bringing in Modular will put pressure on the tiers above it. Social Housing will be at least you’re not in Homelessness, Private Rental at least you’re not in Social, Mortgage at least you’re not in Private Rental. Permanent crisis, benefits the ruling class as they can tell people there lucky while they make a profit from there buying and selling of homes, from their evictions and from their cosy state contracts.
Modular Housing is the continued privitisation of services and the continued creation of a homeless industry. The majority of homeless services are either provided by charities or private for profit companies. They all make money from homeless or work by a business model. If that fact is sick in itself. The building and management of homeless services is all being privitised. Peoples are making money from building shitholes and people are making money from treating tenants like shit in services.
Modular Housing cements this, and even more so it creates a long term secure for investors who manage these properties. Denis O’Brien and site serve were noted early in the modular homes process and the vultures are circling.
Privitsation also means that homelessness is here to stay. The logic is Homeless People are needed to continue running a company or charity, to continue making money and to continue in operation. This pressure filters through to the government who in-act legislation and services to manage homelessness rather then get ride of it.
We should be working to end homelessness, it is the aim of every housing and homeless action group, should be the aim of every charity and should be the aim of the govornment and the state.
Despite all the challenges there are homeless families who are brave taking the fight forward. Despite all the challenges their are families coming together and fighting together rather then the easy and understandable idea of fighting for your own alone. Despite all the challenges there are housing and homeless action groups who believe those affected should lead the fight back, who support those affected and are willing to do radical direct action.
The cosy consensus on modulars is starting to crack, the service providers looking to fill their own pockets, the companies looking to make some money, the parties who see it as a chance to buy votes in their communities are all going to take a kick from the resistance to modulars.
The system is cracking, decent secure housing for all is the mantra, time to fight for it.