The Housing Pandemic
ISO Spaces Managing Director, Ben Treleaven, writes on how the pandemic has impacted the delay of building emergency housing.
“There’s no doubt about it, the pandemic has been scary, but what I find almost scarier is the neglect of everything else. We’re nowhere near experiencing the impact that a year’s worth of halted services, import restrictions and skeleton teams has had on the UK.
In March 2019, homeless charity Shelter estimated that over 236,000 people in the UK were in temporary accommodation arranged by their local council. In September 2019, the National Housing Federation estimated that 8.4 million people in England were living in an unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable home.
I think it’s safe to say that these figures won’t have gone down over 2020; we’re yet to get a clear picture of how many people were made redundant in the pandemic or lost their business after narrowly missing out on a self-employment grant.
Clearly, there is no room for delay where the building of houses is concerned – particularly emergency accommodation. However, there is a delay, and realistically thousands more people will become victims of the pandemic when it comes to their living situation.
Many housing schemes have been put on hold by councils and housing associations, with others unable to move forward due to housing suppliers struggling to deliver an overall finished product.
Prior to March 2020, modular housing had long been championed as a possible saviour to the UK housing crisis. Volumetric, rapid delivery can unlock sites and deliver a much quicker solution for councils than conventional developments.
Most crucially in the situation we now find ourselves in, a modular housing development requires a fraction of the planning, time or materials that a timber frame development demands.
ISO Spaces’ 60-apartment shipping container housing development in Ealing, London took just eight weeks to install, providing emergency accommodation for 280 people.
This type of home has a lifespan of 60 years – it’s not a quick fix that will cause another headache in five years’ time.
Any delay in the building of emergency accommodation is too much at this point; modular housing could be the key to solving one of our many post-Covid crises.
The pandemic showed just how quickly councils can react to emergency situations. Let’s see them react in the same manner to a lack of housing with a growing queue of desperate people.”