Modular Construction Key to Tackling Housing Crisis

With the economic and financial effects of Covid-19 continuing to pile pressure on those most vulnerable in our communities, concerning figures appearing from recent homelessness studies demonstrate why the housing crisis remains a top priority for action groups and charities going into 2022.

Highlighting the severity of the crisis, figures report around 37,000 people have required emergency accommodation since March 2020, with this number likely underestimated due to the pandemic. According to studies, 668 people died while homeless in England and Wales in 2020. Meanwhile, homelessness-related deaths in Scotland presented an increase of nearly 20% year on year with 256 estimated mortalities. The vast majority of mortalities registered are males, with men representing a staggering 88% of the total number.

As the effectiveness of the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme remains a source of contention in many areas, and the future of programmes like Housing First hang in the balance, the UK must embrace an effective, long-term solution to the housing crisis.

Heavy reliance on costly temporary and hostel accommodation currently creates a system by which long-term housing issues remain unaddressed. Leaving many rough sleepers trapped in a cyclic system of permanent instability, limiting possibility for rehabilitation, employment and reintegration. Adaptable, interim housing must be the answer. While the UK has yet to fully embrace a culture of providing housing from the first point of homelessness, this approach has seen incredible success in mainland Europe.

Finland, for example is now on track to eradicate homelessness in capital city Helsinki by 2025 following years of investment in housing solutions. Proof of this success is evident in their declining homelessness figures. In 2020 4,341 people were living homeless in Finland, compared to 274,000 in England. But how did Helsinki achieve such a turn-around? By offering immediate, secure residences to rough sleepers, the city saw more people find their way into employment and less reliant on support schemes and charities.

Similar utilisation of modular housing in the UK has already proven effective, with the sustainability of such construction methods well documented. The collaboration between specialist offsite manufacturer, VOLUMETRIC™ and Hill Group has seen the award-winning MODULHAUS™ single-person accommodation units successfully installed in areas such as Cambridge, London and Ipswich.

Designed specifically to address the housing crisis, following extensive market and industry research, MODULHAUS™ homes offer an investment in social housing that is cost-effective, future-proof and sustainable. Stackable to two storeys, robust and reliable, VOLUMETRIC™ have designed MODULHAUS™ to feel like a traditionally constructed property. The modular housing concept utilises minimal externally mounted features for added security and to reduce potential for tampering and vandalising. More than this, MODULHAUS™ accommodation is delivered to site 100% complete and fully equipped ready for occupation.

As we face the future, there are certainly lessons to learn from Finland’s approach to remedying their housing issues. Not least of all that the answer must be to implement a system that is sustainable long-term, rather than continuing to favour the quick fix approach.

Article first shown in Housing Association Magazine