homeless veterans move into apartments built from recycled shipping containers
What do you get when you combine patriotic altruism and a love for architecture and design? Potter’s Lane. This apartment complex located in Middle City, California is built entirely from recycled shipping containers is now home to once homeless veterans. Constructed by American Family Housing, a non-profit that helps “provide a continuum of housing and an array of services to support homeless and low-income families” (website), Potter’s Lane is the first multi-family apartment building to be finished with only recovered shipping containers.
This feat, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. In November, Los Angeles residents voted and passed a $1.2 billion bond to finance the construction of more shelters. Steven Forry, American Family Housing’s chief development officer said the sixteen studio apartments are built from 48 recycled shipping containers, and that the complex took half a year to complete. The small, intimate nature of the housing is meant to help the residents connect with each other.
“When you’re dealing with people who have been homeless and you warehouse them in 300 units, you are not creating a safety net for people, you are not creating a human connection with people,” Forry said. “The concept here is called housing first. Find a home for them like we found here and then you surround them with social services.”
So who is Potter’s Lane helping? Well, look no further than Marine Veteran Dale Dollar, who has been living on the street for 14 years. Now, along with 15 others, mostly other servicemen, he resides in the complex and calls the development a blessing.
“It’s quite a place. You know you come in when you’ve been sleeping in a tent on the dirt and rocks for years and have to fight to keep your stuff and you end up in a place as beautiful as this?” Dollar said. “Oh, I’ve been blessed more than I should have been. It’s wonderful.”
Or, for example, take Veteran, Kenneth Salazar who was forced to sleep in cars, only to see his vehicle be impounded after life in the Army. Working dead-end jobs, he would wake up in parks and sometimes other people’s driveways.
“I woke up in a motor vehicle in other people’s driveway wondering, ‘What in the hell am I doing here?’ ” Salazar said.
Those rude wake-up calls are over for Salazar who is now one of the residents at Potter’s Lane. Per the LA Times, the residents were screened by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and all 15 met the requirement of being chronically homeless which means “they have long-term experience on the streets complicated by mental or physical disability or addiction.”