The Ship Sails: Boise's First Affordable Shipping Container Development Begins Accepting Applications 

click to enlarge LEAP CHARITIES
  • LEAP Charities
In 2015, the City of Boise released a study showing that in the next decade, Boise would need to build nearly 10,000 new housing units to keep up with its growth. In the report, the city couched the problem in terms of Boise's desirability as a place to live, and wrote that "achieving balance between dispersed single-family development and compact development is a stated goal of Blueprint Boise, the City's comprehensive plan."

Fast forward to 2019. Affordable housing is one of the hottest topics in the city. Prices are on the rise, leaving many long-term residents wondering if it will soon be too expensive to live here. There's a lot of need, particularly for the elderly, the needy, the disabled and workers, and that's where LEAP Charities' new development, Windy Court, enters the fray.

click to enlarge LEAP CHARITIES
  • LEAP Charities
On Monday, April 22, LEAP began accepting applications to live in Windy Court, the city's first housing development featuring shipping containers as construction material. Four four-bedroom, two-bathroom units are available at the development, located in northwest Boise, for $843 per month.

"When we're thinking about new construction, we're thinking about creating something durable," said LEAP Executive Director Bart Cochran about using shipping containers. "Residents are going to live in these units. There's going to be wear and tear, so how do you make the longest-lasting construction you possibly can that holds aesthetic value?"

Rent includes water, sewer, trash and power, and every unit has a microwave, stove, oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer, as well as two parking spaces, one of which is covered. The plots have been xeriscaped and are touted as eco-friendly. On the development website, LEAP wrote that because its builder, IndieDwell, uses up-to-date insulation and construction methods, residents will "pay a fraction of normal utility bills."

The development is designed specifically for families and individuals of need, and eligible applicants need to make a maximum of 30% of the area medium income. LEAP will give preference to applicants with a family member who has a disability or is elderly.

Addressing Boise's pinched housing stock is one of Cochran and LEAP's express goals. LEAP pegs the affordable housing deficit at "8.000+" for the Boise area; other developments like Adare Manor have done some work to address housing for the most needy in the community, though the situation, he said, remains dire.

[The affordable housing deficit for Boise] has to be north of 10,000 [units] by now," Cochran said. "When all eyes are on Boise, with it being one of the fastest-growing cities, it puts more and more pressure [on]. For folks who are already struggling with affordable housing, housing just became completely out of reach."

Applications for Windy Court are available at LEAP's website and at its office, located at 1220 S. Vista Ave. in Boise. There is a $37 application fee per adult, and each unit requires a $1,000 security deposit, though Cochran said 10 applications have already been received, and due to the volume of interest, LEAP will close the application period at the end of the day.

"At some point, we're just taking applications to take applications," he said. "We want to make sure there's a reasonable chance of being able to have a unit should an application gets processed."

A second phase of Windy Court—so named after the father of the couple that donated the parcel on which it sits—is already in the works, and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association has awarded funding for an adjacent development of an additional four units, which Cochran said could be available as early as late-summer 2019.

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