Killing off the needy

I am sure pretty much everyone in the UK knows that Northern Ireland is cold and wet. It really is. Some summers are fantastic, but the best you can hope for is a few decent months to break up the wet and cold weather.

Last winter the city centre, and major motorways, were closed for days as a result of huge amounts of snow.

It really is cold.

So then, I find (on good old BBC News) an interesting piece which seems to be a Christian “charity” planning to slowly kill off people in Belfast who need access to social housing:

Dozens of new homes will be so energy efficient that they are to be built without central heating systems, those behind a new venture have announced.

More than 50 social housing properties will be constructed over the next three years in the scheme which is led by by Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland. (from BBC Northern Ireland)

Wow. Can you imagine sitting there, without central heating, while enough snow falls to close down the busiest motorway in the country? I can understand making them so heating efficient that central heating could be sparsely used – however not providing the facility strikes me as a cruel and unusual punishment for two main reasons:

1 – Should unpredictably bad weather arrive, or the house has been unoccupied for two weeks in a cold spell etc., there is no easy, cost-efficient way to reheat the home to a habitable temperature. Do they expect the needy to shiver for a week, or burn furniture?

2 – The house has no resale value. No one would willingly buy a house like this other than those in desperate need. ‘Nuff said.

Its not that simple though, not only are those in need of social housing expected to freeze to death in the winter, they still have to pay 80% of the price of a normal house in the area:

Construction is set to begin shortly at Madrid Street and the first completed houses will cost in the region of £100,000.

That is not enough for the cruel, greedy, Christians though:

People who want to live in the properties will have to get their hands dirty though. Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organisation which helps families to build their own homes, with the help of volunteers. The entire project will require 84,000 hours of volunteer time.

So they have to pay to build their own house. Wow. How “charitable.” It gets weirder though. Just in case these selfish needy people manage to survive the winter in their social housing, there is one last sting in the tail:

The properties will be made air-tight and will be fitted with triple-glazed windows.

Is this legal? While I cant be bothered calculating the volume of air they will have, surely life wont last long…

Aren’t Christian Charities Wonderful…………

5 thoughts on “Killing off the needy

  1. Umm, central heating is rare in Australia – even those parts which regularly have similarly shithouse weather (Tasmania). People use fires or small gas or electric heaters to heat where they are at the time, and have warm bedding. And they wear winter clothes during winter, not just t-shirts inside an over-heated building. And the insulation standard here is terrible, even double glazing isn’t common.

    This doesn’t seem terribly bad, and should save significant energy costs in the long run.

  2. I am a master of Marie Curie high school, I’d like your blog.
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  3. Michael,

    I am not saying it is insurmountable, but generally cultures where people expect to live in this manner are better prepared for it. For example, people who need social housing in Belfast are unlikely to be able to afford the cost of several small heaters to keep their house warm. Central heating is one of the more cost effective ways of keeping your house at an acceptable temperature.

    Obviously the goal is for it to save energy, however I dont think it will achieve this. People will do things like running electric heaters, having the fire on more (etc) which will require more energy.

    I suspect that all this will do is transfer where the energy cost takes place, rather than reduce it. The idea that people are paying high rates, and self building, these properties, which are (IMHO of course) below the normal standard is strange.

    Anyway, the central heating wasn’t the primary spark for the post – I found the concept of the houses being “air tight” so comical I couldn’t pass it up.

  4. The idea of living in belfast without central heating is barking mad. Most places on that latitude, with a similar climate central heat everything. The argument they can put “more clothes on” is crazy. You want these people to pay £100k to live in a glorified igloo? Outrageous.

    Also – if they are in air tight houses, how can they light fires? How can they even increase their activity levels to generate more heat.

    The whole idea is stupid.

  5. I am totally impressed by the idea that a house can be airtight……
    Ignoring that comedy idea, I work in a building that was claimed to need no central heating or cooling because of its magic eco-ness. Obviously, the first summer – when it was unbearably hot – and the first winter – when it was unfeasibly cold – put paid to that and the eco-non-heating and non-cooling had to be supplemented by, erm, heating and cooling.
    Ironically- the toilet eco-taps (faucets to you yanks) – once switched on, pour out hot water for a set time, without human intervention. My plans to collect the waste 5 minutes of hot water in a huge thermos flask – to cut my own energy and water wastage – have not yet been implemented due to idleness and failure to have a giant thermos.
    Mostly eco-tech is greenwash tech. Created by people who think “bugger the planet, there’s a fat contract to be had here.”

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