Cargo Ship Containers Make Suitable Homes

Some Places Are Using Them to Ease the Homeless Problem

One of those places is Midway, California, where a major project was undertaken to ease the heartbreaking situation of homeless military veterans there. The cargo containers had been accumulating exponentially since the countries of origin (primarily China) realized that it was more cost-effective to abandon the big steel boxes at their destination points than it was to pay to have the empty crates shipped back to be refilled and reshipped.

A non-profit company called American Family Housing, whose mission is to provide shelter and assistance to those in need, financed and built the apartment “city” to provide comfortable housing for homeless veterans. They built 16 studio apartments using 48 of the discarded containers, and subsidize the living expenses of the veterans who occupy the units.

The ports here in Ensenada and El Sauzal de Rodriguez have seen those unsightly boxes accumulate as well. It’s getting to the point where they have become eyesores in both locations.

This begs the question: Since we’re stuck with the containers, how can we put them to use in a way that will benefit society and relieve the detrimental effect on the aesthetic aspect of our environment?

The answer is simple: Put people to work moving the boxes to areas of vacant land, employ construction workers (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, etc.), and turn those things into comfortable quarters for homeless and low-income individuals and families!

Granted, such a project would be an unlikely goal for a government that is already in the midst of a budgetary crisis. So….how to fund the undertaking?

In regards to the highly successful project in California, the answer was provided by a non-profit private institution. Mexico is a favorite target for such entities, because the need is so great here in so many ways.

Churches and other humanitarian organizations have long been providers of funds and supplies to orphanages, homeless shelters, animal rescue projects and other needy enterprises. Why not permanent housing for needy families as well?

This project could possibly attract the attention of both entrepreneurs and philanthropists alike, due to its creative possibilities as well as its obvious favorable impact on the well-being of the population as a whole; not only that, but it should also be viewed favorably by environmentalists, because it would improve the aesthetics of the area while simultaneously “recycling” potential pollutants.

The owners providing the land for such projects could benefit by having attractive residences on their properties, and, perhaps, reap the benefit of receiving subsidized rental income provided by the residents and the aforementioned NPO’s as well.

Truth is, this is not a new idea: People in economically challenged countries like Jakarta, Armenia, and even in desolate regions of China, have been using the containers as dwellings for decades.

Granted, the amenities in such places are scarce, but the structures are safe, dry, fire-resistant and earthquake-proof.

More affluent countries have found the containers to be desirable for their low cost, structural integrity, and, believe it or not, in some cases, their trendiness!

In Redondo Beach, CA., for example, a luxury beach house was constructed from eight shipping containers.

A London company (Urban Space Mgmt), built a “container city” in the Docklands district of that city in 2001. In only 5 months, a 12-unit, 3-story work/live/studio complex was built, and 80% of the materials used in its construction were recycled materials!

In Canada, the containers are frequently made into economical cabins in the wild.

The houses may be made into “Ecopods,” i.e., fully self-sufficient units, using solar panels for power and heating and cooling, recycled automobile tires for flooring and soya foam for insulation….

A New Jersey firm (Quik House) sells prefabricated houses in “kit” form, and, again, are made using 75% recycled materials; each unit features 3 bedrooms and 2-½ baths in a 2,000 square-foot environment.

Seems like a great way to ease this area of the squalor and despair of the many homeless individuals living among us, while simultaneously improving the environment and bringing Ensenada and its environs into the forefront as a member of a world society of a forward-thinking, compassionate populace, looking upon all its people as equals, willing to provide opportunities, dignity and success to everyone.

David Beyer

Author: David Beyer

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