Can shipping containers help solve our homeless problem?

Published: Jul. 13, 2011 at 2:27 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2011 at 2:53 AM HST
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Tom Berg
Tom Berg
John Rogers
John Rogers

MAKAHA (HawaiiNewsNow) – Honolulu city councilman Tom Berg is proposing a change to the city Land Use Ordinance so homeless people can be moved into converted shipping containers on land zoned for agricultural use. It is an idea Hawaii News Now first told you about in May.

Berg believes farmers may be willing to pay to convert shipping containers into small dwellings, complete with bathrooms and kitchenettes. Once built, he envisions homeless people moving into the converted containers for up to five years during which time they would work as farmhands.

Berg believes his proposed change to the Land Use Ordinance could be one of the many solutions needed to resolve Hawaii's homeless problem.

"There's modulars. There's pre-fabricated. There's even an effort of those who say when the city and county liquidates its buses, why can't you turn these buses into residential units," Berg said while addressing people at his town hall meeting in Makaha Tuesday night.

Entrepreneur John Rogers, who attended the town hall meeting, said he has built and permitted about 15 container-homes.

"I mean, you can put together an eight by twenty foot studio for one person anywhere from $9,000 to $13,000 with a bathroom," said Rogers, whose company is called Affordable Portable Housing.

The latest figures from the state show there are 6,188 homeless people around the state, 2,556 of them are unsheltered - - meaning they live on the street. The remaining 3,632 are staying in shelters or transitional homes.

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