Cargominiums: The Answer to the Affordable Housing Problem?
A housing organisation that looks after vulnerable people has begun building a shipping container apartment complex in Columbus, Ohio that they believe is the way ahead for organisations like themselves. Where many non-profit housing organisations tend to house ex-convicts, the homeless and other very low income people in cheaper, older housing stock, the very low cost of shipping container housing makes new builds competitive in price while providing very warm, secure and comfortable housing to those most in need.
The Nothing Into Something Real Estate non-profit focuses on housing those most in need in and around the state of Ohio in the USA. It gives homeless people somewhere to live, ex-convicts a comfortable home to readjust to society, and the disabled somewhere to live where they may otherwise face homelessness.
Traditionally NISRE and similar housing organisations have bought up older housing stock in a poorer state of repair. This comes with its own problems, as older housing tends to have many of its systems go wrong, from leaky roofs to damp and plumbing problems. This somewhat marginalises those requiring affordable housing even more.
The idea of the Cargominiums Project is to build high quality housing at a very low cost. Repurposed shipping containers form the framework of the apartment blocks, and these can be cut and fitted out off-site.
In the video above you will see that the 54 shipping containers were erected and welded together in just five days, something like a 90 day saving in time on building the framework of a traditional apartment complex. This saves a considerable amount of time – and time is money.
The aim of the project is to have a mixed residential unit of supported housing and downsizers. Those recovering from their setbacks in life and on the up will live next door to those who may have sold their larger properties and seek a smaller and more manageable home, perhaps having released capital to help their children onto the housing ladder. Mixed use housing has been shown to help those recovering from life’s setbacks by helping them forge community ties with people they may never otherwise meet. The downsizers also inject capital into the project by buying leaseholds that help fund the building work overall, with those recovering from setbacks will be paying affordable rental rates.
It isn’t just about cheap and cheerful housing thrown up to suit an urgent need. The homes will be very high quality and meet or exceed local housing regulations. For instance, NISRE claim that the homes will be so well insulated they might not require heating in winter. In the US Midwest temperatures can be brutally low in winter with locals often advising visitors not to touch metal with bare skin as you could stick to it and get serious injuries. For the insulation to be that good, this suggests the quality of the housing will be extremely high indeed.
The project is in a backwater suburb of Columbus where residents are said to have welcomed the new housing. Supported and affordable housing is often controversial in more well-to-do communities as residents fear disruption and there is some evidence that it can impact real estate prices of neighbouring property.
Michele Reynolds, CEO of NISRE, told local media, “These containers come one-way into the US and then they just stockpile in shipping yards.. so this is a way to reuse them, but it’s also a way to solve a problem. There’s an affordable housing crisis here – not just in Columbus but nationwide – so what better purpose but to take it and build housing that can solve a social problem?”
Plans for the future
Even while the Cargominiums project is under construction, NISRE is in the process of drawing up plans for more shipping container affordable housing across the state and beyond.
Interested in shipping container architecture?
Here at the Gateway Gazette there is hardly a week that goes by that we don’t look at shipping container architecture (check out our Facebook page too) – this is nothing new. What is new is that the extremely low cost of repurposed shipping container housing offers high quality housing to those on low incomes. Using the low cost of construction to provide quality housing that serves a great social need is as good a use of the concept as you can get! For all your second hand shipping container housing projects, contact the team at Gateway Container Sales & Hire. We can modify containers onsite or put you in touch with our network of designers, builders and architects. Get a free quote.