Your Ship Came In

America’s homeless population has topped 500,000. That’s roughly the same as the city of Tucson, where I live.

It seems our legislators can’t solve the homeless problem, and it’s not for a lack of funds. The government spends nearly $9 billion each year to help the homeless. Meanwhile, the problem is worse than ever.

So, I had an idea.

Here’s my take. During the height of the pandemic, cargo ships choked our ports. Each carried an astounding 24,000 shipping containers, equal to the length of a freight train 44 miles long.

After traveling the world, these giant, metal boxes get worn and must be retired. What if a slice of our homeless budget went toward buying old shipping containers and transforming them into livable housing? Nothing extravagant, but they’d be safe and dry. Actually, there’s already a healthy market for refurbished shipping containers and dozens of companies convert them. I may be over-simplifying things, but what if this became a large-scale effort? There are 65 million shipping containers currently in use.

If just 1% got repurposed, America could provide shelter for every homeless person.

Residents would be responsible for maintaining their 300 square foot container home. They’d be offered the opportunity to own it by investing some sweat equity. States might donate unused land and create a ‘village for vets’ (who comprise a healthy share of the homeless population). Maybe invite local designers to paint the containers and inject some personality. Give them whimsical names, like the Congo Condo or Caribbean Crib – a nod to the places the containers have traveled.

Tonight, a half-million of us will sleep outside. While our legislators debate the homeless problem, let’s end it.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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