Half a million people live on the streets or in shelters on any given night in the U.S. Around a fourth of the homeless are children. The reasons for homelessness are varied, but the most common are poverty, joblessness, and falling incomes. Apart from these causes, inadequate affordable housing and declining public residential assistance programs have worsened both homelessness and the existing housing crisis.

Consequently, some people are clamoring for government and non-government organizations to build homes using custom shipping containers. In the U.S., companies that provide off-dock container storage and maintenance facilities also produce and sell customized containers for large-scale housing developments. Shipping containers can help curb homelessness because they offer a number of advantages related to construction, cost, space, maintenance, and the environment.

Low-Cost Construction

Customized container homes are significantly more economic to construct compared to a similarly-sized house. Depending on the area, design, and structure, a container home may cost a quarter or half of the amount spent on a building with the same specifications. A local government can hire a container company to construct customized container houses to get the best deal per container because of the volume of its order. Such housing sites can potentially reduce housing costs by more than half the normal amount.

Construction is cheaper for tailored container homes because the frame and walls are pre-constructed. Labor and material costs are therefore reduced. This alone represents an enormous savings over houses built conventionally.

Shorter Construction Timeline

Custom-made containers are also cheaper due to a shorter construction timeline. Container homes can be custom-assembled within a matter of months. They are essentially prefab homes, not subjected to construction delays from changing weather conditions. Moreover, additional customizations can be achieved quickly because their metal components are easy to cut and reshape. Short construction periods are conducive to quickly serving the immediate need for housing the homeless in big cities.

Maximize Limited Space

Since many of those without homes live in cities with limited open space, container houses can be customized to fit space-restrictive sites. They can be constructed in multiple levels to fit more individuals or families per site. Additionally, custom-built container homes can be situated on otherwise awkward landscapes, such as under bridges and on other unused, but constricted government lands. Furthermore, containers can be used to create grid-based public housing, where spaces can be optimized for the most basic living functions.

Low-Maintenance Houses Made From Custom Shipping Containers

Lower Maintenance Costs Compared to Concrete Houses

Low maintenance costs bring yet another benefit to using containers for housing sites. A container home generally needs less maintenance because it is built to resist extreme weather conditions and structural defects. Meanwhile, shingle roofs are prone to cracking and concrete houses are vulnerable to weather elements. A customized container home does not share these vulnerabilities. You therefore don’t have to worry about re-roofing every 10 years or replacing broken tiles. In a time of social-service budget crunching, the advantages to custom-home containers are palpable for municipality officials.

Eco-Friendly Housing

Apart from lower maintenance costs, container homes support the drive for eco-friendly housing. Because they use comparatively little space and require relatively little furniture, they minimize waste and energy consumption. Furthermore, the recycled nature of these homes undeniably reduces their ecological imprint as opposed to conventional housing.

Customized container houses meet several societal urgencies, from home affordability, to responsive construction timelines, to low impact on the planet. Homelessness cannot be resolved overnight, but promoting the use container homes for public housing programs can help reduce the number of adults and children living on the streets.

The time is right to use more customized container homes to build the next generation of low-cost housing for the homeless, who can subsequently recover from their destitute situation.


“How Can the U.S. End Homelessness?”, theatlantic.com

“Thinking of buying a shipping container home? Here’s how you can go about getting finance”, finder.com