CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The idea of building shipping container homes for affordable housing has floated around the Charlotte area for a couple of years. Now, one nonprofit is making blueprints for the plans.
The Southern Comfort Inn is gearing up to reopen after closing in June. Its plans include transitionary housing using its own units and permanent affordable housing using container homes on the company-owned lot next door.
The extended-stay motel offered affordable rent in the past but was forced to close due to a lack of payment from residents.
With room renovations and a new mission, the inn is now opening its doors as a nonprofit called Freedom Community Outreach. Manager Traci Jones explained that becoming a nonprofit allowed them to receive better funding and help from community partners.
Jones said the inn houses a few families now, and when its transitionary units open, they'll be dedicated to veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.
For the container homes, formally known as steel modular homes, project manager April Benson said they plan to offer 12 of them to start at about $600 a month.
"You got people living in their cars, living on the street, so we do have people that would love to have a steel modular home,” added Benson.
However, the nonprofit needs public funding to make it happen. The group spoke with the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners during their October meeting and plans to apply for a grant.
"The narrative will change in this area when the city and county start appropriating funding to the west side of Charlotte," Jones said. "So, with their help, and partners of Freedom Community Outreach, then we can make a lot of huge changes.”
The steel homes will be provided by Urban Creation USA. The company has dropped off a steel shell for the inn and will build it out to show the finished product.
Benson said they’re aiming to fully reopen the inn by March 2023. They’re currently applying for rezoning and public funding for the steel homes.
WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.
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