Students at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia are developing ways to assist the nation’s homeless population with shipping containers. Students in a JMU Community Innovation class recently presented the idea of a mobile healthcare clinic set up in a shipping container.
“It’s basically like a mobile doctor’s office,” said Lindsey McLucas, a senior at JMU who helped develop the idea. “So that’s bringing [healthcare] to people who need medical care.”
Students developed the idea as an option for the Suitcase Clinic to expand their services. The Suitcase Clinic is a humanitarian student organization, which offers a variety of services to the homeless and low-income communities.
In Harrisonburg, the Suitcase Clinic provides helps to provide healthcare for the homeless population. With shipping containers as a potential option to expand their services in different places around the city, the JMU students hope the Suitcase Clinic could improve the way people receive healthcare treatment in Harrisonburg.
“The work that we have put in is actually going somewhere,” said Sophia Kaleem, a JMU sophomore who was a part of the project. “We know that it’s going to help the Suitcase Clinic expand their services and go to the next level.”
The Suitcase Clinic will decide whether they can effectively use the JMU students’ idea to further their mission before determining the funding costs and where to place the containers. The good news is that steel shipping containers can be expected to last up to 25 years on average with minimal maintenance.
“It’s really amazing to see the Suitcase Clinic move forward with something that we had a part in,” said McLucas. “[Just] having the knowledge that I got to be a part of something that’s going to make a difference in people’s lives [is amazing].”
Shipping containers are becoming increasingly popular, not only as a solution for helping the homeless but also as a solution for housing shortages.
While manufactured homes in places like Phoenix have become appealing alternative options for affordable housing, Container Homes U.S.A. has set up shop in Cleveland where engineers and architects create homes out of shipping containers.
“Where it would take two months to build a home, our homes are built and framed in nine hours,” said Derrick Childs, who works with Container Homes U.S.A. “We have 72 designs. I have a three-bedroom, two-bath that we sell for $99,000. Your standard three-bedroom, two-bath runs $149,000.”
Although shipping containers are an unconventional housing option, Childs says it’s a way to make that life goal of owning a home more accessible. It may also be a way to make that goal more accessible to the homeless, as well.