Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Shipping Containers: Detroit’s New Environmentally Friendly, Low-Cost Housing Solution

Contributed by on January 7, 2015 at 1:51 am

This May, General Motors and the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) will put the finishing touches on Detroit’s first shipping container home in the city’s North End neighborhood. The home will be 320 square feet, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Although small, General Motors and MUFI hope that this new residence will have a big impact on Detroit’s blighted housing stock and economy.


The city of Detroit declared bankruptcy in July of 2013, making it the largest municipality in the United States to have ever done so. Bankruptcy followed on the heels of over thirty years of extreme urban decline in the city. In 1950, Detroit was home to over 1.8 million people and a thriving automobile industry. By the time the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013, the population had shrunk to barely over 700,000, while the city itself lost almost all of its manufacturing businesses and gained a reputation as one of the most poverty-stricken and crime-infested American cities.


Certainly one shipping container is not the panacea for Detroit’s struggles, but with over 40,000 vacant homes awaiting demolition in the city, the supporters of the project hope these new low-cost homes will entice a younger generation to move into the city while still providing affordable new housing for the current community. Further, the units have environmental benefits, since they reuse discarded shipping containers and other previously-used materials and components, thereby reducing landfill waste.


The home is being constructed in General Motors’ Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant while the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative prepares the property for installation.