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Living in a box – are container homes a good idea?

Container city

Container homes for the homeless

Ben wrote last week about a BBC article on housing the homeless in converted shipping containers, saying what a good idea it was.

I duly did a tweet out about the article, and was staggered a few hours later to see how much attention it had got.

Seldom, maybe never, has a tweet of mine been so re-tweeeted or received so many comments.

It obviously  struck a chord.

Some of the comments were more or less positive:

@cherrymushrooms Creative thinking. Love the idea

@gerrydrabble Hmm, thats a er “novel” idea,,very strange but ingenious idea though

@allomac it’s true I am afraid, it is not as bad as it sounds & better than being on streets or in rented & only temp.

u can actually make shipping containers into great living areas, look on line to see what can b achieved

would love 2 c & visit them. I think they r a good idea, esp 2 solve sh-term housing problems

@Sucled sounds awful, but isn’t it better than sleeping on the streets, if used as stop gap?

@drleatongray  It entirely depends on the quality of the refit. I have seen them used as luxury pop up shops too.

Pop up shops and restaurants near Hoxton beautifully converted, inspiring stuff.

@neave Far from ideal but surely better than living on the streets. Containers not bad when converted.

@calidore65  if like an ‘encampment policy’ then alarming. Though can be well re-designed. Check out examples on the web.

@CllrPaul4cowick More here ow.ly/kHzZH Hope it looks like this ow.ly/kHA1b

@hedgepixie Other cities; PLEASE LEARN!

@gekalte Can be attractive mnn.com/your-home/remo… but located on contaminated land not acceptable :-/

@chris1966  Idea of prefab single bed homes not worrying it’s the fact they are on land that is unsuitable for housing

@marlonpfallon  I’ll take one, can’t be much worse than most private rented overpriced housing?

@woolston53 Brilliant idea.

@tezisold Fitted out properly and with services they make excellent ready made rooms and are cheap.

Went to restaurant in PI made fitted out containers from inside you would not know

And others less so

@tonymac99  So what next for the rapscallion homeless ? Prison Ships ? Perhaps an isolated island. #obscene

@skmbr And silently craned onto ships in the dead of night?

@ProfMESmith  And then delivered where – Australia?

@CliffordRoger maybe the UN could send over some tents

@KarenPBuckMP Please God, no

@sphenfan what kind of people are running this once proud country of ours ,tory boys ,eaton rules

@gillbrown7  gives a whole new meaning to being thrown on the scrapheap.

@exportaid Out of sight out of mind. People will either die of cold or lack of oxygen. Even to think of it is a disgrace

@ericburrows Next step hulks for the homeless like the old ship prisons.. History repeats

@tcyJimB is that before they get transported to Australia???? ;-)

Thoughts, comments

Using contaminated land is perhaps less than ideal but living on the street is even less ideal.  At least people have a roof over their heads and somewhere to call their own.

Then it is using up something we already have – disused shipping containers.  See this website >> here  for example, for more on their potential.

To rent a ‘proper’ property in the private sector, you generally need to have fairly high earnings and a good credit record.  Many people do not have this  - often through no real fault of their own, and so find it impossible to move on.

Having the chance to live in one of these little homes could really help people get a grip on their lives and sort themselves out.  Some of them look quite nice too – see the video >> here about container homes in East London.

Maybe we also need a service such as >> this one I spotted in in America, which  could help people build their credit rating – an idea perhaps for someone wanting to develop a new banking service?

Problems need imaginative solutions

We have a housing problem.  Everyone knows it.  Not enough is being done about it.

This is something being done.  I think it should be applauded.

Container City picture on flickr



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One Response to Living in a box – are container homes a good idea?

  1. It all appears very nice and desirable when they’re filled with bohemian artisits and shown on aspirational TV adverts, but fill them with homless people and they’ll eventually become undesirable shanty towns.

    They’ll also end up like portacabins for school classrooms – bring them in to fulfill a need on a temporary basis and then you don’t see them replaced for 30 years.

    What we need is proper, governement funded, social housing intergrated into every new housing development (developers won’t ever build enough on their own).




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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



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