Midway City, CA Shipping Containers Make Homes For Homeless Vets

Midway looks to some innovative ways to help homeless vets.

By Team Agorafy October 5, 2016
Courtesy of

Orange County is the third largest county in California and the fifth in the entire US—as well as one of the least affordable counties in the entire nation. The general cost of living there is a sizable 43 percent above the national average. Then there’s Midway City—the virtual red-headed-step-child of Orange County—and one of its oldest communities. With a population of about 10,000, it sits between Westminster and Huntington Beach and is comprised mostly of families with low to moderate incomes. Many of its residents are senior citizens, and unfortunately, the homeless population has increased over the last two years by approximately 2,000 people.

Related: From Square Pegs to Round Holes, Container and Silo Homes are Becoming the Biggest Trend in Real Estate

Much like the rest of California where slap-dash homeless shelters take over vacant lots, stretches of road and city parks, Midway City faced a homeless crisis beyond what the community could manage on its own. Cue: American Family Housing. This not for profit organization created an innovative project dubbed, ‘Potter’s Lane’. The project will focus on helping homeless veterans obtain permanent housing. The poetic title comes from a bible passage that states, “You are the potter, I am the clay.”

The costs for the entire project is estimated at $1.9 million, says Donna Gallup who is AFH’s director. She shares, “It is an incredible need in Orange County. We’ve had an increase in our homeless veterans, and it is something that is important to honor those that have served our country.”

Upon completion (scheduled for January 2017) Potter’s Lane will be a multi-family housing development made entirely out of—shipping containers. That’s right, the very thing New Yorkers say their apartments are smaller than, because most are. These steel-frame containers measure in at about 480 square feet each, whereas a studio apartment in New York averages a mere 300.

Photos courtesy of

In the very first project of its kind in the US, American Family Housing will metamorphose 54 steel framed shipping containers into one vital housing complex comprised of 16 units residing at 15171 Jackson St., Middle City, California. Ten subsidized units are set aside for homeless veterans and one will be for an on-site property manager. While veterans will get first dibs on the remaining apartments, any homeless person may apply.  People without any income will pay nothing to start, then after a case manager is assigned, government benefits will be designated based on the individual’s military service as well as any disabilities.

Each apartment in Potter’s Lane is energy efficient and will be made up of three 8-by-20-foot containers. Each will include floor to ceiling windows allowing in an abundance of light. The sides of the containers will be removed internally to make enough space for a dining area, a kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom.

AFH knows this one housing development won’t obliterate the city’s homeless issue, but they’d like to be a catalyst for modeling how the homeless problem can be helped and potentially solved. Ms. Gallup says that Potter’s Lane is “a groundbreaker to change the way we permanently address homelessness. Imagine a 16-unit project created in the factory in just over three months.”

One can only hope that with organizations such as the AFH, coupled with a little ingenuity and some out of the box thinking, we’ll be able to return the massive favor these veterans gave to us with their service to this country by literally carving out a space for them to call a home of their own. 


Team Agorafy



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