From shipping containers to shelters: Courtenay creates housing solutions

WatchThe Comox Rotary Club and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society have teamed up to convert shipping containers into shelters for homeless people.

They might be small measuring just 20 feet long, by 8 feet wide and 9.5 feet high, but the converted shipping container is a massive improvement for someone used to living on the streets.

“We’ve put in a 10-gallon hot water heater and a shower, a toilet, a bed and a small fridge,” said Comox Rotary Club President Charlene Davis. “We’ll also use an induction burner which is really cool because it’s not capable of starting any fires.”

Caring for a homeless person can cost society roughly $60,000 a year in overnight shelters and programs, but only about $18,000 to convert a shipping container into a small home.

The initiative, led by the Comox Rotary Club and the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society, hopes to build four of these homes by next summer, slowing getting some of the Comox Valley’s 150 homeless people off the streets.

“And this form of housing is sustainable as opposed to what’s behind us where you have problems with hydro, plumbing, repairs etc.,” said Dawn to Dawn’s Grant Shilling, speaking about campers at Maple Pool Campground where many people live on the verge of homelessness.

The new homes will be set up at Maple Pool.

Shipping containers in construction isn’t a new idea, but Courtenay mayor Bob Wells will be taking the concept of shipping containers as a solution to homelessness to the Union of BC Municipalities conference in Vancouver this week.

“While we’re there we’re going to be speaking with the Premier, the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Finance, we’re really going to be talking to everybody and talking to them about coming up with more opportunities or options so we can get people housed as quickly as possible,” said Wells.

“Hopefully the government will pick up the slack and realize what we’ve created here is a sustainable model that they should be supporting and not just leave us to it,” added Shilling.

The shipping containers are all being sourced locally and now a Gofundme page has been set up in case anyone would like to help financially.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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