Container Homes for the Homeless: How Shipping Containers Can Change Lives

New and used shipping containers have become a staple in the global architecture industry for their robust modular scalability, build efficiency, and a host of other benefits.

Shipping containers reduce both the cost of building materials and labour, and have the potential for quick and easy deployment.

Due to their size and sheer availability, shipping containers have revolutionized modular construction with entire rooms being built in advance of deployment, the setup of entire communities built out of them is possible in weeks – not months or years as with traditional building practices, and at a fraction of the cost. The used shipping container market is loaded with shipping containers for sale at great prices.

Port Container Services

 (Image by Port Container Services)

Human Interest

The resulting possibilities have also piqued the interest of human interest groups and municipal politicians all over the globe, who wish to employ prefabricated construction methods like these to address people in need.

Quick to assemble and deploy, new or used shipping containers can be used to provide support humanitarian groups in the case of a disaster or provide long-term shelter for the homeless.

Groups in the United States are driving the trend in North America, with many displaced due to recent disasters and homelessness resulting from a bullish economy.

Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell is currently creating temporary offices to manage city properties and push forward his affordable housing strategy, all with repurposed shipping containers.

And that’s only one example; other plans are in motion to implement the use of affordable housing constructed out of repurposed shipping containers from New York to Brighton – and it is estimated that 40 foot shipping container apartments could strategically house hundreds of thousands of people.

No Accounting for Taste

A major concern of homeowners in the municipalities involved is whether the construction plans will be an eye sore or not – diminishing home value in neighborhoods en masse. And it isn’t a concern made in vain when many view their home as their central asset. Home value makes up a rather large picture when it comes to how one looks on paper, after all.

And with that in mind, every single project that we’ve explored has made design a key factor in whether projects are being approved. Just because they’re shipping containers, they don’t need to look like shipping containers.

And their cost effectiveness leads to many really intriguing contemporary building designs, freeing spaces from the confines of standard container dimensions.

Creative City

The paradigm of a “creative city” is based on the concept first thought of by Charles Landry in the late 1980’s.

The purpose of his work was to develop a set of required conditions which encourage city planners to “think, plan, and act with imagination” when facilitating local infrastructure initiatives which can potentially address urban social challenges.

Simply put, the Creative City framework creates a more comprehensive balance between infrastructure and those who populate it, while incubating and nurturing a healthy local economy.

If more municipal governments reach higher in how they handle social challenges by integrating projects with other governmental departments and private partnerships, social challenges can be addressed and holistically improved from the ground up.

Repurposing shipping containers to serve the public good benefit all of us. From lowering costs facing support services to improving the lives of those less fortunate, one thing is certain; the concept is relatively new and it shows no signs of going anywhere.