Phoenix installs shelter constructed out of shipping containers

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Twenty unhoused people in Phoenix are set to move into a new solar-powered shelter built out of shipping containers.

The city of Phoenix ordered four prefabricated shelters from local company Steel + Spark last year and installed the first outside St. Vincent de Paul’s Washington Street shelter. It has 10 single rooms and six double rooms for couples.

City of Phoenix Director of the Office of Homeless Solutions Rachel Milne talked to us about the impact this could have for people experiencing homelessness.

“It’s a non-congregate shelter model, so a little different than what you might think of as a typical homeless shelter,” Milne said. “This is a non-congregate setting, so spaces where people can have their own individual home.”

The shelters, called “X-Wings,” are made of four containers in an “X” layout. Each container has multiple sleeping compartments with a bed (or two, in double rooms), desk, outlet and storage shelves. Each room is individually air-conditioned.

“Really beautiful aesthetics with the X-wings and the inside is very durable,” Milne said. “We also have outlets for people to be able to plug in their phone, so really a nice, dignified space.”

Individuals staying in the X-Wing will also have access to all the resources available at the Washington Relief Center, including:

  • bathrooms
  • showers
  • three daily meals
  • companion animal support
  • laundry services
  • security
  • workforce development
  • life skills programming
  • case management and navigation services to help people end their homelessness

“We really heard some incredible stories, some people who were really excited to have space of their own,” Milne said.

The City of Phoenix is partnering to add more than 900 new shelter beds in 2023 and 2024, with 120 already added in 2023.

Rachel Milne, Director of the Office of Homeless Solutions for the City of Phoenix

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