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Harry Cohen takes a peek at an actual container house

“They can be built at a lower price point, are storm resilient and they look great!”

Harry Cohen is doubling down on his affordable housing plan to incorporate container housing in the city. In between knocking on doors this weekend, Cohen took a break from his mayoral campaigning to check out a container home going up in East Tampa.

The nearly done home shows three shipping containers, two side-by-side with another on top of them, with wood paneling and wide windows. While portions of the home still look like a shipping container, all-in-all the home more resembles modern architecture.

I have included homes built using repurposed shipping containers in my affordable housing plan because they can be built at a lower price point, are storm resilient and they look great,” Cohen wrote on Facebook.

Cohen said he and other City Council members heard from SUNDog Structures at an October workshop in which the Tampa-based company said they could build a small container home for about $83,000.

“Combined with down payment assistance programs that already exist, this is a real opportunity to not only provide housing that is truly affordable, but expand homeownership in communities where it has been out of reach,” Cohen said. “Shipping containers can be used to build everything from homes to commercial buildings to temporary housing, and they can be exported. In addition to being one of many options to make housing more affordable and accessible, it is an industry that has a lot of economic development potential with good jobs.”

SUNDog Structures creates one-, two- and three-bedroom homes that feature modern amenities, spacious outdoor living space and, in some designs, outdoor fireplaces. The homes can include garages, patios and rooftop terraces. They can be multiple stories and include multiple rooms.

The company also has a hybrid space that can be used for downtown studio or retail with upstairs accommodations.

Container homes have become something of a recent phenomenon including for affordable housing.

A list of the top 20 container homes so far this year by a design firm shows container homes from all over the world. The firm claims each of the homes costs about half as much as comparably sized and equipped traditional construction homes.

Some of the homes on that list are quite luxurious with high-end furnishings. Others are simple and meant for affordability and convenience.

Cohen has been talking up the use of container housing as an affordable option in Tampa during almost every campaign forum he has attended in recent weeks.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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