Modular Housing Units for Homeless Veterans

A housing development called Potter’s Lane is transforming the way people view homeless veterans and the homeless population in general. Why? American Family Housing (AFH) is recycling old shipping containers and turning them into studio-style units for the homeless, including homeless veterans.

American Family Housing’s goal is to address the issues associated with homelessness and mental health by helping veterans achieve stability and re-integrate into society. All too often, veterans re-enter society after major life and mind altering experiences that can result in disorders such as PTSD. Unfortunately, such disorders can make it difficult for veterans to hold jobs and maintain steady incomes which can ultimately lead to living on the street. AFH understands that everybody needs a little help, especially our veterans, and the organization hopes to alleviate some of the pain that they may be experiencing.

AFH dove right into the heart of the homeless population: California. The Golden State has the largest number of veterans who experience homelessness on a given night which amounts to approximately 9,612 people and nearly a quarter of the entire nation’s homeless population.

The development, located in Midway City, California, houses 16 units that each occupy approximately 480 square feet. Each unit is built using three 8-by-20-foot shipping containers that have the interior walls removed to create an open inside space. Each apartment will feature a bedroom, dining area, kitchen, and a bathroom.

Out of the 16 available units, 10 are reserved for homeless veterans, 5 units are available to the rest of the homeless population, and 1 unit is reserved for the property manager. There will also be on-site services such as group and individual counseling, medical care, and employment programs.

Because it can be difficult for homeless veterans to find work, rent is calculated as a percentage of the tenants’ monthly earnings. Each tenant will pay up to 30% of their income, so earnings of $1,200/month will result in a rent fee of $360 at most. If the tenants do not have an income, they will pay nothing at first, and a case manager will help them obtain government benefits.

Potter’s Lane is expected to take about nine months to complete while similar types of projects last between 2 or 3 years. The speedy construction time can be attributed to the already-assembled shipping containers that are simply placed next to and on top of each other. This type of project is similar to modular building construction where modules are constructed off-site and transported to the site. This project is even quicker than the typical modular buildings because it utilizes already-constructed shipping containers. Modular construction saves time and money and is changing the way buildings are designed.

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