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Shipping Container Homes for the Homeless


With a name like, the Cottages at Hickory Crossing, it sounds like something you might find in a nice suburban neighborhood. But the Cottages at Hickory Crossing are not out in suburbia. They are, instead, an experimental group of 50 micro-houses for the chronically homeless – built with recycled shipping containers – and they are on three acres of open space in central Dallas, where Interstate 30 and Interstate 45 cross paths.

The location is definitely urban, but there is a logic to the suburban model. Not only is the City of Dallas assisting the homeless with housing, but they have targeted a subculture of the homeless population they say aren’t “well-socialized.” Apartments with shared hallways and party walls can lead to problems for a population with special needs. A little extra space helps lessen conflict.

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The hope is that the houses will give residents a sense of ownership that will in turn produce responsibility with a group of people who often have trouble finding apartments.

The pilot project is governed by CitySquare, but with support from a conglomerate that includes the Joint Dallas County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, Dallas County Jail Mental Health Steering Committee, and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Permanent Supportive Housing Using Shipping Containers

The cottages aren’t temporary shelters, but what the backers say are permanent supportive housing; homes that are linked with services and that can be occupied for as long as the residents meet minimum requirements. That includes paying rent: 30 percent of whatever income they might have either through work or social insurance programs, with a minimum of $50 per month.

The cottages consist of a modern, one-bedroom bungalow of about 430 square feet. The units have the shape of a monopoly house, with steeply gabled, metal-seam roofs and small inset porches, each one equipped with a red Adirondack chair to promote engagement in the community. The units are grouped together in clusters of six or eight — “micro-neighborhoods.”

The experimental structures are made from recycled shipping containers.

Shipping Container Cottage Interiors

Inside, the homes are well-organized and functional, with plenty of space for a single individual (couples and families are not allowed). They come furnished with a full kitchen open to the living area, a small bedroom, and a bath with a shower. There is a security pad at the front that alarms against intruders, and also allows for monitoring by city officials. If a resident doesn’t leave their unit for 24 hours, they will get a visit to make sure they’re safe.

This is just another example of so many throughout the world that are taking advantage of durable, safe and affordable used shipping containers.

The Possibilities are Endless with Shipping Containers

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