The Little River Box Company, a national real estate group, has won city permission to build a compact house out of two shipping containers and reserve it for a low-income buyer. If things go as planned, a corner lot in South Miami is about to explode with a group of 480-square-foot homes. And if that goes well, they will start to pop up all over Miami-Dade County.

Evan Fancher, director of the South Miami anti-blight district, whose backing the project said, “There are these shotgun lots everywhere. There are these right-of-ways and weird corner lots, and no builder will touch them.”1

No one perhaps except Gayle Zalduondo’s team who have already “cut 10 feet off two standard 40-foot cargo containers to fit into the confines of the 3,200-square-foot South Miami lot. The Miami Association of Realtors hired Little River Box to create the South Miami house as a test case in how cargo containers can make it easier to create affordable housing.”1

Check out the video below…

Zalduondo, a founding partner at Little River Box Company, even has plans in her office for cargo containers stacked atop each other as a low-cost apartment building “and another set of cottages for a Doral developer who wants to create affordable teacher housing in the parking lot of a planned school.”1 While the company is currently doing one house a week but would eventually like to do one a day!


But then there’s the red tape. And the cost:

“…creating homes out of cargo containers isn’t quite as cheap as people might think. Miami-Dade commissioners grumbled about the estimated $180,000 asking price for the South Miami container house when presented with the plan at a committee hearing this week.

The capped sales price — the Realtors group said it would take less if no buyers qualified — includes the land, and would only be available to purchasers who earn less than $51,000 a year. That’s within the range of Miami-Dade’s workforce-housing program, which targets people who have a steady income but can’t afford a place to live. Under the county program, the land would include a requirement that it be sold only to workforce buyers in the future.

The overall price would still make it one of the cheapest houses in South Miami. A recent search of found no single-family houses selling for less than $200,000 in South Miami.”1

(Believe it or not, Miami-Dade’s “affordable-housing program” lets builders sell homes on donated county surplus lots for up to $205,000! How on earth does a working couple afford that mortgage?)

“Fancher, director of the South Miami Community Redevelopment Area, said his agency is ready to assist with grants to cover some of the down payment, which could bring the monthly mortgage cost below $1,200. A list of comparable homes provided by the Realtors group showed some nearby condos in the 500-square-foot range selling at close to the $180,000 price, but the one-bedroom houses starting at $300,000.”1

Totally insane.

What do you think? If this really the way to solve part of the low-income housing issues in Miami or is it just a pipe dream?


  1. Miami Herald