Housing provider set to use shipping containers for emergency housing gallery

Rick Mills and Paul Creighton from Royal Wolf with containers they are converting for the Christchurch rebuild.
JOSEPH JOHNSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Rick Mills and Paul Creighton from Royal Wolf with containers they are converting for the Christchurch rebuild.

A shipping container company has a solution to Auckland's homeless crisis: modified containers with beds, bathrooms and heating.

Royal Wolf has already built a 17 container ''village'' to accommodate 51 temporary workers in Christchurch.

Now, it says it is in talks with a not-for-profit organisation to do something similar in Auckland to house homeless people, driven out of the housing market by the city's soaring house prices and rents.

Royal Wolf's general manager Paul Creighton said talks with the undisclosed organisation were in the very early stages. He said: ''A representative has been to see what we've done in Christchurch and said it was ideal for what they are hoping to do for people. We are still waiting to hear back from them."

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Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett announced earlier this year that the Government would fund about 3000 emergency housing places across the country each year for the next four years.

About $32 million would be spent on funding non-governmental organisations to provide the beds, she said.

Royal Wolf has 31 offices throughout Australia and New Zealand and provides containers for shipping, storage, refrigeration and construction site accommodation.

Creighton said its steel containers constructed for accommodation were wider than usual, measuring 3 metres by 12 metres long, and met housing construction and insulation standards.

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Each container has three private bedrooms as a typical layout, complete with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning and heating. Other containers can be used to provide kitchen and laundry facilities.

At $150,000 each, the containers cost a fraction of Auckland's average house price of over $900,000.

Creighton said another benefit for emergency provision was that a collection of containers could be constructed in as little time as 8 to 10 weeks, providing planning consents could be obtained.

''They are connected to the mains and offer all the facilities that you need. They offer a fast solution,'' he said.

Creighton said that Auckland Council had also shown interest last year in using the containers to house temporary workers for some of its big construction projects currently underway.

''We hope to educate organisations about what containers can offer as a solution for housing,'' said Creighton.

The government has come under pressure from social agencies and charities to provide more affordable housing to bring a halt to the growing number of reports of Auckland families living out of their cars because they cannot afford standard housing.

 - Sunday Star Times

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