Shipping container homes have been on the rise as consumers look for more affordable and eco-friendly ways to live. Some people think it's a fad but EcoWatch reporter Lorraine Chow says the trend is here to stay. She gives four reasons why:

1. Homes for the homeless
The Los Angeles Times recently featured the efforts of American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization that's building a two-story, 16-unit apartment building out of shipping containers to house Orange County's homeless veterans. The building is scheduled to open in January, making it California's first ever shipping-container apartment building.

2. Military applications
The same Los Angeles Times report also highlighted the works of American contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that have built hundreds of shipping container homes in Iraq and Afghanistan to billet military and other U.S. personnel. While they aren't the most eye-pleasing, a shipping container home—or a Containerized Housing Unit—can be ideal in a war zone because they aren't meant to be permanent.

3. Housing shortages
Montainer Inc., a builder based out of Missoula, Montana, is trying to solve Portland's notorious housing shortage one shipping container at a time. "We see each of these backyards as a vacant lot, with the potential to add much needed housing for the city," said Montainer co-founder and CEO, Patrick Collins, in a release. A typical Montainer unit with less than 1,000 square feet costs between $80,000 and $120,000.

4. Student accommodations
In Amsterdam, The Wenckehof—which consists of 1,000 shipping containers converted into housing for students—is the largest development of its kind, The Guardian reported in October 2015. Although shipping container homes have its critics, advocates tout its versatility and affordability. One Wenckehof resident told The Guardian that he pays is €450 a month ($505) in rent to live at Wenckehof and also qualifies for a €140 ($170) monthly housing subsidy, much cheaper than the €600 ($675) a month that students often pay to share an apartment in central Amsterdam.

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