Elite Systems has launched a new modular build initiative to help local authorities across the UK address the problems that surround homelessness.
The housing product, designed to provide high-quality emergency accommodation, is a safe single storey home designed to offer a fast solution to councils facing the twin issues of rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation.
Homelessness in the UK
At the end of 2019, housing charity Shelter estimated there were at least 320,000 homeless people in the UK. The issue has been heightened by the coronavirus outbreak which saw thousands of rough sleepers offered temporary accommodation in hotels.
The Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Framework turned to Elite, one of its member organisations, to devise a modular-based solution to respond to the crisis. The result is a blueprint for a single storey home including a kitchen/living space, bedroom and bathroom.
The buildings are designed to be fully configurable as single units or larger community complexes, incorporating photovoltaic cells to achieve net-zero carbon and able to be relocated as demand requires.
Safe and comfortable
Roel Carbonel, Elite's architectural technician, explained the thinking behind the modular solution. He designed it first and foremost to be a safe and comfortable home from which homeless people could begin to rebuild their lives.
The flexible and modular solution could be a potential answer to the crisis for many councils, he believes, for several reasons: "Like all of our modular buildings, this accommodation product is high-quality, using responsibly sourced materials and with considerations in place for the whole life cost of the building, not just the initial outlay - an important consideration for councils."
A bigger issue
While Elite System's temporary solution is designed to alleviate homelessness, the bigger picture for housing in the UK post lockdown shows the fundamental importance of shelter for all.
As the government pledges another £85m to tackle the issue of homelessness, modular solutions look ideally placed to meet the government's ambitious housing target of 300,000 new homes annually - a target that local authorities continue to miss as a result of intense financial pressure.
Modular is fast, quality controlled and can contribute to net carbon-zero targets. These homes are more cost-effective for residents and contribute to reducing the emission of the construction sector, which make up 39% of emissions globally.
Modular construction can deliver much-needed housing stock at pace, affordably and sustainably. Initiatives like Elite Systems safe and secure homes and studios recent volumetric modular housing project for Wycombe District Council which provided 58 units for rough sleepers, show what can be achieved by combining political will and innovative solutions.
In the context of homelessness and the estimated 62,860 families in the UK living in temporary accommodation and on social housing waiting lists, modular construction can help to close the estimated gap between housing demand and supply of 1 million homes.
In our post-pandemic world, modular housing could be a critical part of finding a lasting solution to the homeless crisis.