By Debbie Gregory.
In March of 2017, just 6 months after breaking ground, 15 homeless veterans moved in to their brand new, unique 480-square-foot living spaces in Orange County, CA.
Potter’s Lane is a $6.7 million project paid for with federal, state and local dollars, donations, and money from American Family Housing, the nonprofit behind the project. It is the first-of-its-kind to use recycled shipping containers to create permanent supportive housing for veterans.
Each of the furnished units are made of three shipping containers pieced together, and each one overlooks a courtyard that includes an oversized American flag, a garden, and picnic tables.
Donna Gallup, the president of American Family Housing, wanted to make sure the complex’s design honored the service of its U.S. military residents.
“All of the units look over the courtyard so that they can watch each other’s backs and develop that community and that sense of belonging,” Gallup said.
“Normally a traditional project would take up to two years to build, and the fact that our homeless veterans are sleeping on the streets right now, I think timing is very important,” she added.
At Potter’s Lane, case managers from the VA and the Illumination Foundation, another Orange County nonprofit that works with the homeless, are around to help residents with whatever assistance they might need.
“This is a model that can be replicated,” said Gallup. “It’s an innovative approach to development because the structures were manufactured off-site while site work was being done here. Then, the units were delivered and assembled on-site to create housing – shortening the time it would normally take to build a project. The units are designed to be very strong, sustainable and energy efficient.”
Proponents of using containers to build affordable housing expect costs to come down as more companies compete in that market.
If you would like to volunteer with any of American Family Housing’s projects or events, email [email protected] or call (714) 897-3221×115.