OPW has expressed frustration that modular home sites are not identified – The Irish Times

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has expressed frustration that suitable locations to house Ukrainian refugees were not identified when it was tasked with providing modular homes to respond to the crisis.

OPW head of property management Martin Bourke told officials from the housing and children’s departments that a “rough list” of sites would be “of no use” to his agency.

A series of emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show the OPW issued an ‘urgent’ appeal for details of modular home sites in early May.

Plans to deliver 500 modular units from the end of 2022 until 2023 were announced by the government at the end of June.

The OPW said Friday that under the existing plan, 200 units to house 800 people are to be delivered by the end of the year and another 300 for 1,200 people by early 2023.

Installation is due to begin in early November and an OPW spokeswoman said: “Given the scale of the work required, this is an ambitious but achievable timeline to drive the rollout of the modular home program. .”

The government discussed this week the possibility of increasing the total number of modular homes to 700.

At the time of correspondence provided to The Irish Times, the suitability of the identified sites for refugee accommodation had yet to be established.

“Use for Refugees”

The OPW has been commissioned by the government to deliver modular homes on April 26.

Mr Bourke wrote to Housing and Children’s Department officials on May 5 asking for a “complete list” of sites approved for modular housing and “deemed suitable for use by refugees”.

He said OPW President Maurice Buckley was planning a brief meeting of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other ministers for the following week.

A Department of Housing official told Mr Bourke the list was being compiled, but added: ‘Just for the record – it has not been reviewed and is simply a list, by state agency, of sites they have identified as available.”

The official said: “OPW will need to undertake further investigation if a potentially suitable site is identified.”

Mr. Bourke replied: “A rough list without any form of filtering or analysis will be of no use to the OPW.

“We need to know that these sites are available and it is legally compliant for contractors to start working there.”

He added, “The OPW needs absolute confirmation as to which sites are suitable for the refugees.

“OPW has no jurisdiction in the area of ​​refugee settlement which falls under the Department of Children and IPAS [International Protection Accommodation Services].” He said: “We urgently need to connect on this.”

A Department of Housing spokesperson said a list of sites was sent to the OPW on May 11.

The OPW spokeswoman said selecting suitable sites “is critically important to the rollout” of modular homes and “there is an extremely urgent need to ensure this key program enabler is addressed.” “.

She said “significant progress in selecting sites, including assessing their suitability for construction, has been made in recent weeks” and “it is expected that the site selection process will be finalized shortly”. .