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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.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Innovative Potter’s Lane Apartment Complex Utilizes Shipping Containers to House Veterans

potters lane

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.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.