Shipping_Containers_for_Emergency_Housing by zhucezhao

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									Shipping Containers for Emergency Housing

Word Count:
655

Summary:
In light of recent natural disasters, the need for durable and quick to
install temporary shelters is very clear. One idea being proposed is to
use the excess shipping containers currently clogging up harbors to
provide temporary housing for natural disasters victims.


Keywords:
shipping container housing


Article Body:
Natural disasters leave victims who continue to suffer long after the
media turns its focus elsewhere. People who lose their homes and all of
their possessions may feel lucky to be alive, but they need a place where
to continue to live. Recently, some architects and others interested in
providing temporary, <b>emergency housing</b> have begun to make use of a
resource that seems plentiful – metal <b>shipping containers</b>.

The idea started in part due to the overflow of containers that are
piling up in harbors along both coasts of the United States. In New York
alone, over a million of these empty containers are stored in the harbor
and along the Jersey turnpike. There are two main reasons for this excess
of containers:

<ul><li>We have been <b>importing more than we have been exporting</b>.
So the containers come in full of imported goods but then we aren't
filling them back up and circulating them back into the world
market.</li><li>Companies don't have much of an <b>incentive</b> to
return the containers to their source. For example, in China, it costs
about $2,300 to make one of these containers. But for a US company to
ship an empty container back to China would cost about $900. So instead
of spending the money, US companies have simply begun to store
them.</li></ul>

So the argument has been made that these containers could be turned into
<b>shelter</b> for use in emergencies. In light of the recent aftermath
of hurricane Katrina, there could actually be immediate need for such
shelters. Ideally, the <b>converted containers</b> could be delivered by
truck to the actual home sight of the disaster victims. They could live
in the shelter on their own land, using the utilities that are already
supplied to that lot until their home is rebuilt. The shelters would be
preferable to tents because of their steel beam construction. They can
endure strong winds, snow and even wildfires.

However, the first step is to get the containers converted. At the
moment, there are a few problems that those performing the conversion
face. First of all, the containers are only 8 feet wide which doesn't
create much room. Cutting away sides and joining 2 containers together
can solve this problem. Windows and other holes for utilities have to be
cut with a blow torch, requiring specialized labor. So, at the moment,
the cost of converting these <b>shipping containers</b> would be
prohibitive.

But there is a solution to this problem. Proponents of the idea,
including professors, students, nonprofit organizations and some members
of the building industry suggest that the containers should be
<b>designed so that conversion is possible</b> at some point in the
future. They could have removable panels that would not endanger the
integrity of the container when it's being used for shipping and could be
easily removed when the container is needed in an emergency for shelter.
When needed, these containers could then be transported and set up much
faster and would be a much more comfortable solution for the victims.

There are still many questions about this idea, mostly about how to get
enough interest from the government agencies that are responsible for
<b>disaster relief</b> as well as from the companies that manufacture and
use the containers. For example, who will pay for the changes needed to
the equipment and processes that the manufacturers might use? What type
of notification and organization system will be put into place to direct
the distribution and installation of the shelters? What happens to the
containers once the victims have acquired permanent housing? And again,
who will pay for the delivery and removal of the units? All of these and
other questions would need to be answered before the idea could be put
into widespread use. Although the idea is still in the formative stages,
it definitely shows promise.

								
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