Big problems sometimes require tiny solutions. In many of America’s cities, especially in the East and on the West Coast, housing shortages have become a defining symbol of inequality in America. In Denver, Portland, Seattle, and especially San Francisco, even the well-heeled must settle for tiny, outdated spaces. Only people at the very high end of the income scale can afford the trendy loft and condos or the sprawling suburban mansions.
Even those living on the high end have a problem. They are increasingly cost burdened. With huge incomes come huge housing bills and large debt levels. People on the lower end of the income scale simply cannot afford to live in the city. Those who lose jobs and can’t get back on their feet, or who become ill, often wind up on the streets.
Entrepreneurs Using Shipping Containers to Help Housing Shortage
Creative entrepreneurs have embraced innovation to help people unable to afford housing, and it often comes in the tiny form of used shipping containers. These containers, often seen in pictures of large barges carrying freight across the ocean, are tiny compared to the average house, providing 320 feet of living space. However, the containers can be combined. A two container house provides 640 feet of living space, enough to be on par with many urban apartments.
Masih Madani, a Reno entrepreneur, explained in a KUNR article how he combines two shipping containers into a two bedroom home, complete with a living room, kitchen and full bathroom. He can construct shipping-container homes in about one month, using steel to create the interior walls. He estimates that shipping container homes average just $50 per square foot, compared to $160 plus for custom homes and $75 to $80 per square foot for manufactured homes.
A Solution to Poverty
Madani says he was inspired by the desire to help the large numbers of homeless people he sees in Reno, Nevada. Concerned about their ability to survive in the harsh winter climate, he sees affordable housing as a matter of human rights. He notes that all people are not born with equal opportunities and not everyone can make the level of money demanded by the housing market.
By providing much less expensive manufacturing options, more homes can become available. This will reduce prices by increasing the number of homes available on the lower price end of the market. Many communities have supplies of only expensive homes available, while the amount of inexpensive homes remains constrained, forcing people to pay burdensome amounts for average to substandard housing. This reinforces a cycle of poverty, where families spend everything they have just to survive. Creative, new forms of housing can ease this burden.
Other Benefits of Container Housing
In addition to cost, housing made from shipping containers also offers a no mold/no termite residence. They are also easy to transport. Shipping-container homes are perfect for rural areas because they can be ordered prefabricated and delivered ready to be lived in.
Affordable housing provides a difficult problem for economists, business leaders, and politicians to address. Without question, a change must occur or housing will turn from a necessity to a luxury, leaving people in dire straits. Shipping container homes and other creative options offer solutions.
Davenport Laroche is a leading shipping container investment agency based out of Hong Kong.