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Pod Homes for the Homeless

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

2021 has been the year that councils around the UK have turned to the pod home. 33 pod homes, out of the 100 planned, have recently been built in Haringey. In Reading, the council will install 40 stackable pod homes for the local homeless population. Councils in Ilford, Devon, Cornwall, Ipswich, Cambridge and Milford Haven have also decided to provide pod homes for local homeless people.

What are Pod Homes?

Pod homes are tiny, living spaces about the size of a shipping container, but they can sometimes be smaller than this. Inside, there is a kitchen, bathroom with shower, a bedroom area, a sofa and an eating area that can double as a desk. Sometimes, the bed is located on a platform that can only be reached via a ladder.

An example of a Pod Home- photo by Andrea Davis on Unsplash

The pods in Haringey are designed to be as energy efficient as possible, costing just £5 a week in bills. There is also an office on site where residents can access support and help from the council. It is hoped that these pods will provide residents with the stability they need to move to permanent accommodation.

All of the pods in Haringey will be built by The Salvation Army, Citizens UK and the developers known as, Hill Group. The three organisations are joining forces to deliver this project. Lieutenant Colonel Drew McCombe, of The Salvation Army, said that pod homes were, “a more cost-effective, and better-quality alternative to temporary accommodation.”

Malachi Place

Malachi Justin, who gave his money to a homeless charity when he was only five, inspired others to donate to a fund to build 60 Pods in Ilford. The result was a stacked, housing unit, made up of prefabricated pod homes, called Malachi Place, which opened in February 2020. It has proved to be a great success. The project has become a model for other pod home initiatives.

In Reading, the homeless charity St Mungo’s will provide support for the residents housed in new, stackable pod homes. People who were housed in B&B accommodation during the covid lockdowns will be prioritised when the pod homes are allocated.

An example of what the interior of a pod home might look like- photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

Some think pod homes look out of place

However, there has been some criticism directed towards these housing programmes. In Devon, residents in Tiverton are concerned that the pod homes will look out of place amongst its old, brick buildings. The eight pod homes being built there, for homeless people, will be on stilts because the area is a flood plain. Residents are also concerned that they will attract too much attention, causing an increase in traffic and endangering children.

Should pod homes be larger?

In Ipswich, people have objected to the size of the pods. The parish council have complained that the size of the units break the council’s own rules on the minimum acceptable living space for a single occupant. A spokesperson from the council insisted this was intentional to ensure only one person lived in each unit and to prevent vulnerable people from being exploited. They will also have the help of a dedicated support worker.

In Cambridge, objections have been raised over the quality of the pod homes due to be built there. They also have an internal floor space of 24 square metres, and the minimum is usually 37. Also, they do not have adequate disabled access. Residents are also concerned about anti-social behaviour and that the bright orange, pod home units will be an eyesore. A spokesperson for the Cambridge City Council stated that her son used to be homeless. Her son said that homeless people just want a small, easy to manage place when they first stop sleeping rough.

The rise of the pod home

In fact, it is noticeable how much nicer these pod homes are compared to some places available to rent on websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. Inhabitants of a pod home would also have a lot more privacy than renting in a house share. It’s surely a matter of time before larger pod homes, with the usual 37 square metre floor space or more, start being built for the general public, especially when you factor in the rising, prohibitive costs of renting.

Stackable Pod Homes in Oslo- Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

In Melbourne, Australia, people are turning to pod homes because house prices are so high. The fabricated houses are built off-site and can be installed onto a piece of land in a day. They only take five to eight weeks to build and cost a fraction of the price of a traditional build. If you move, you can take them with you.

Pod homes are quick to build

A considerable advantage of using pod homes is the speed at which these units can be built, installed and dismantled. In areas like Milford Haven, the pods will be temporarily located at a site that has a permitted development allowance of 12 months. Their ability to be moved means that these homes can circumvent the obstacles created by planning legislation. The council has been able to respond quickly to the sharp rise in people needing emergency accommodation because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

Pod homes are meant to be a temporary solution to the homeless problem. Pod homes provide homeless people with a safe and secure environment, helping them to reintegrate into society. They are an agile and effective way of dealing with the housing crisis.

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Charlotte Newton
Charlotte Newton

An interesting initiative . Good to read about.


I'm glad you found it interesting. Thanks for reading 🙂

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