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LEAP Housing creates shipping container homes during Boise's housing crisis

Caritas Commons in Eagle, Idaho includes six homes made of three shipping containers, with the plan to build eight more.

BOISE, Idaho — The housing crisis in the Treasure Valley doesn't seem to be letting up, forcing some people to find another place to live or downsize entirely. 

The solutions seem slim to none, but the nonprofit LEAP Housing is taking matters into its own hands by building affordable homes out of storage materials.

Caritas Commons in Eagle, Idaho includes six homes made of three shipping containers, with the plan to build eight more. Each home is 960 square feet with four bedrooms and two baths.

"We don't really refer to them as tiny homes, but they are just the right amount of space,” said CEO of LEAP Housing, Bart Cochran.

The last four homes sold for $275,000 and the first two sold for $212,000.

"We really target 80 percent of the median area income of our audience so think like one-third of all households in Boise are 80 percent or below,” Cochran said. "This is the audience that can roughly afford about $300,000 in a home purchase. With median home prices at $575,000, the market has essentially left this audience behind."

But unfortunately, LEAP Housing is not immune to inflation and the cost of building a home keeps rising.

"We are starting to see upward movement not only in material costs but also fuel surcharges. Inflation is definitely in there as well, so it’s all a bundle of sort of upward movement of the total cost in order to construct,” Cochran said.

With help from the community and donations to the nonprofit, Cochran is confident they can keep the cost of homes in the $300,000 range.

Peter Manning was the first person to purchase a home at Caritas Commons, during a time when he was struggling to find something affordable.

"I was in the music business for thirty years and moved to Boise to be a concert promoter right up until covid took the wind out of everybody, and I didn't have the ability to wait for the music business to come back,” Manning said.

Since then, Manning found a job in a different industry. He moved into the home with his two children in December of 2021.

"Both my kids, just the quality it provides, it's basic, they have a bedroom you know, they have a place they can call home,” Manning said.

After a tumultuous two years, Manning said he is grateful to have a roof over his head for himself and his children.

“When I think about the challenges of living in a smaller space I think about the challenges of living in no space,” Manning said.

For a link to Caritas Waitlist (LEAP Housing Trust Waitlist), click here.

For a link to LEAP Housing's donation page, click here.

The City of Boise recently announced a partnership with LEAP Housing for a pilot program to legalize tiny homes. Currently, mobilized tiny homes are not legal under the Boise city code. 

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