Revamped Shipping Containers Provide Shelter for the Homeless

Hope on Alvarado

By Debbie Gregory.

First there was Potter’s Field, a $6.7 million project that recycled shipping containers to create permanent supportive housing for veterans in Orange County. Building on that success, Los Angeles County has planned a shipping-container apartment complex utilizing “Cargotecture” to repurpose the workhorse cargo container.

The L.A. development will be called “Hope on Alvarado”, a five story, 84-unit building with containers provided by GrowthPoint, which also provided the modified shipping containers for Potter’s Lane.

In addition to four stories of studio and one-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 400 to 480 square feet, the development will also have space for parking bicycles, parking for social service workers, and meeting rooms.

Repurposing the containers for housing is due in part to the steel containers’ strength and lower building expenses, including labor. Modifications to the containers include removing doors and parts of the exterior metal skin and adding floor-to-ceiling windows and interior fixtures and finishes.

GrowthPoint says their containers — used once for a shipment — are 106 times stronger than building codes require and can resist weathering for 100 years.

Containers will be trucked to the construction site, lifted and stacked into place by a crane, and then welded together.

Potter’s Lane cost $6.7 million and was paid for with federal, state and local dollars, donations, and money from American Family Housing, the nonprofit behind the project.

Hope on Alvarado will be funded entirely through private equity, according to FlyAwayHomes, a company that was founded to help end homelessness sustainably by building permanent supportive housing without dependence on government funding or charitable donations – using social impact equity or other private funding methods.

“If we can prove we can do this with private money, people will be much more willing to invest in it,” said Kevin Hirai, chief operations officer at FlyAway.

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