As part of its COVID response programme, the UK Government introduced a Scheme (“Everyone in”) to take rough sleepers off the streets: and in the process discovered homelessness figures were nine times worse than they thought. They thought 4,266 people were sleeping rough, and it turned out to be 38,394 (at least). But still there’s no sign of Boris Johnson’s Government doing anything more tangible to meet its manifesto commitment of bringing an end to rough sleeping by 2024, because the scattering of hotels and hostels currently sheltering those 38,394 dispossessed, fellow creatures will send them back to the pavements when lockdown restrictions are eased. Unlike you and me, they aren’t longing to be outside again… they have nothing to look forward to on the streets.
A Global Challenge
And the United Kingdom certainly isn’t alone in this: according to the United Nations report “Everyone Included” (www.un.org), 1.6 Billion people across the world are now either inadequately housed or not housed at all. It is, as the Report grimly concludes, “one of the crudest manifestations of poverty, discrimination and inequality”. A further 15 Million people are forcibly evicted from their homes every year, fuelling what has become an inexorable rise in homelessness over the last decade. So something has to be done…and that means not only addressing issues of systemic poverty at a structural level (lord knows that’s long overdue), it means sustainable housing development too…
Because, to put it simply, the key driver behind addressing homelessness is building more homes: leaving no one behind, nobody struggling again through the dead watches of the night on a cold pavement…and certainly not in 2021, not on the streets of some of the richest and most successful economies in the world. As you read this, 567,715 people are homeless in the United States, and in India, the fastest growing large economy on the planet, 1.8 Million are either homeless or in dire housing need. In short, we need to build our way back from this crisis, and we need to do it quickly. Boris Johnson and Joe Biden might be using “Build back Better” as a political dog whistle, but the fact is they’re both right.
The Wealth at our Feet
Like a hungry man living on top of an undiscovered gold mine, the key to unlocking progress is right there at our feet: the answer is Modular Construction. Tried and tested technologies that are capable of providing quality homes (at pace) for those in housing need: making sure we can all move forward together, in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.
Delivering at Pace
Modular units are prefabricated off site, which means fewer supply line pinch points, and the chance to plan ahead more effectively: so unlike conventional construction alternatives, mired in mud and girders, the final building can be completed 30% more quickly. And lets not mince our words with statistics here, that means three homes for the homeless in the time it takes to produce one using outstated technologies. That matters more than anything in the world if you’re the two who have to wait.
Buildings and infrastructure facilities created using advanced Modular systems are also 30% lower in price than conventional equivalents, delivering space, people and technology at the core of the asset itself: and they also typically re-use 80% of their components, which meets the demands of the Circular Economy (www.oecd.org): prolonging lifespan through a combination of modularity and durability, as well as a radical reduction in embodied energy.
There’s no punch line for any of this…these are urgent, practical necessities, and we need to start addressing them now.
We have to learn to build homes better, faster and smarter, which is why Modular Construction is becoming so important: it’s a key part of addressing the curse of homelessness across the globe.
Modulex Modular Buildings Plc (www.modulexglobal.com) is currently building the World’s largest Steel Modular Building Factory. It was established by Red Ribbon (www.redribbon.co) to harness the full potential of fast evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet housing needs within global communities.