...a small fire broke out in Sonoma County of which few were aware as they settled in for the night. Within hours seasonal winds whipped it into a firestorm that traveled 20 miles overnight, falling upon us all almost unawares, many escaping with little or nothing but their lives. For those left homeless, this was only the beginning of their hardship.
Homelessness has been thrust into the public consciousness recently by politics and because cities worldwide are falling behind in providing affordable housing. So often drugs, mental health and poverty are blamed, but for our beautiful community, this natural disaster delivered a stark reminder that anyone is vulnerable to homelessness.
“More than 18 million households — 1 in 6 — are paying more than half of their income on housing”
— The 2019 State of the Nation’s Housing Report to Congress
The wildfires of 2017 taught thousands of residents in Sonoma County a lesson that homelessness is never far away.
Homes 4 the Homeless founder Steve Schneider and dog Seymour lost their Santa Rosa home in the 2017 wildfires.
For some of us, finding a place to live after the fires has been a continual search and the process opened our minds to several creative ideas. Metal shipping containers have long been touted as a basic building block for affordable housing, and having used them for some of our existing commercial and residential projects, we suddenly zeroed in on how we could help. And the idea for Homes 4 the Homeless was born.
The beauty of metal storage shipping containers is in their ability to use modular construction techniques. Modular construction allows us to build much of the development at a central site using high-volume and high-quality production techniques that conform to regulations while saving time and lowering costs over normal methods. Modular construction takes many shapes and sizes with panels and preformed structures that are finished on the inside before delivery.
In 2019 Homelessness rose by more than 50 percent in the East Bay near Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda.
Container homes reduce construction time, are safer, quieter and cleaner while making it easier and more cost-effective for designers and architects. They are also extremely conducive to short-term rentals and rapid-rehousing projects, with the ability to deliver container homes where they are needed in a matter of days on a flatbed truck. Along with containers we are flexible to other building ideas that utilize tiny home and apartment designs which will help transition people from sleeping in the streets to sleeping in a place that will transition them to independence.
Utilizing our strengths in international distribution, strategic partnerships and economic development, Homes 4 the Homeless is developing a diverse network of associates and community organizations that are aligning towards the goal of establishing housing and rental developments for the homeless. We also welcome partnerships with local, city, county, state and federal government agencies as well as non-profits dedicated to assisting the homeless.
Shipping containers make excellent modular construction units for large-scale homeless projects, able to stack 16 high without additional engineering.