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Helping Our Neighbors In The Bahamas

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Crisis Housing Solutions Is Building Its First Model for Post-Disaster Housing

Six months after Hurricane Dorian levelled large parts of the northern Bahamas, it still looks like the storm just hit in many places. While the streets have been cleared of debris, thousands of homes remain uninhabitable.

While wealthier residents on lesser-hit Bahamian islands have insurance for their properties, most working Bahamians do not. Having already suffered job and income losses after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, many residents stopped carrying insurance as they simply couldn’t afford it. When Dorian hit in 2019, carrying with it catastrophic losses, most residents had nothing to help them rebuild.

When Crisis Housing Solutions (CHS) first began to explore the use of shipping containers as a source of affordable housing, it became clear from the myriad of uses worldwide that containers could be adapted for almost limitless possibilities – including temporary and permanent post-disaster housing.

“With so many of our neighbors in the Bahamas struggling, Crisis Housing Solutions wanted to do something to help,” shares Craig Vanderlaan, the organization’s Executive Director and Co-Founder. “Thanks to the support of a local benefactor, we have already started construction on the first of what we hope will be many units that can be used for both temporary and more permanent needs to assist with recovery.”

This first unit will be a two-bedroom, 1-bathroom home with a kitchenette and small living area. It can be connected to a generator or local power grid to provide power for more permanent placement. Units will each have a full split system AC to keep things comfortable. Additional details are under development as this will our first post-disaster model created.

As the project gets underway, we have already seen a great outpouring of support from the community. A local electrical contractor has volunteered time to complete the wiring of the unit. A local artist has already designed the façade and will complete the painting once the unit is nearing completion.

With the unit already under construction, CHS anticipates completion in just under two months. We will be chronicling the weekly progress through our social media platforms. Stay tuned for updates on this truly unique and innovative new home for a Bahamian family!

Work gets underway on CHS’s first post-disaster unit.

Crisis Housing Solutions Announces Plans to Build a Repurposing Facility in Broward County to Construct Affordable Housing from Shipping Containers

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Crisis Housing Solutions (CHS) announces plans to build a 40-50,000 square foot, multi-million dollar Repurposing Facility in Broward County for the construction of affordable housing from shipping containers. For the last several years, CHS has been pursuing this innovative housing concept to lower construction costs and increase the supply of affordable housing.

A 2016 feasibility study funded by JPMorgan Chase Bank and conducted by the Meridian Appraisal Group of Winter Springs, Florida validated this concept. The most significant savings was on multi-family housing where construction with containers conservatively saves 15% versus concrete block. This is before CHS leverages its non-profit status for discounts and donations on land, containers and materials and the waiver of permit and impact fees which can take the savings to 25-30%—much of which can be passed along as reduced rents. With South Florida rents consistently among the nation’s highest relative to local income, this can make a significant difference to cost-burdened low-to-moderate income households.  

Crisis Housing Solutions is already partnering with another non-profit developer to build a 52-unit affordable rental housing community in West Palm Beach utilizing 156 high-cube 40-foot containers that will break ground around year-end. A 2-bedroom/2-bath single family prototype is also under construction and nearing completion.

Earlier this year, CHS was awarded a $200,000 grant by The Jim Moran Foundation of Deerfield Beach, Florida to help support this innovative affordable housing construction program. This includes certain predevelopment costs for building the 2B/2B prototype and the 52-unit affordable rental housing community in West Palm Beach. It also includes planning and development for the construction of the Repurposing Facility where 80-85% of the fabrication and finishing work will be performed—a major contributor to the overall cost savings.

According to Craig Vanderlaan, Executive Director & Co-Founder of CHS, “our Repurposing Facility will be the first of its kind in the country. Through strategic collaborations with selected universities, technical schools and manufacturers, this facility will be a center for housing innovation and green technology. Once fully operational, product offerings will include a wide range of attainable housing options—single family homes, multi-family residential, mixed-use residential and commercial, student housing, workforce housing, temporary and permanent disaster housing . . . the potential is limitless. “

“Furthermore, this facility will create almost 100 new jobs at the outset. We are extremely grateful to The Jim Moran Foundation for their generous support of our efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing in Florida.”

“We recognize that many hardworking individuals and families in our community struggle with keeping a roof over their heads,” said Jan Moran, Chairman and President of The Jim Moran Foundation. “Through our partnership with Crisis Housing Solutions, we are excited to help launch new affordable housing options as well as provide job development opportunities.”

Learn More About the Use of Repurposed Shipping Containers for Housing Needs

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