An architect turned disused shipping containers into a tiny house village for the homeless in Las Vegas, and more than 1,800 people have lived there

Share VillageThe exterior and interior of the homes in Share Village.
  • Arnold Stalk, an architect who had been working with homeless people, was inspired to create homes from shipping containers after he saw dozens of them sitting unused at ports.
  • He founded Share Village in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1994, and built modern homes from shipping containers.
  • The village has housed more than 1,800 people and has given beds to more than 360,000.
  • On March 2, they opened a new village of homes, called Share Village #2.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Arnold Stalk, an architect working with homeless housing, was on a cruise in the 1980s, he spotted dozens of disused shipping containers at the ports he passed – and he had an idea.

Stalk, who used to be an architecture professor, worked with students to come up with ideas for how the containers could be turned into homes in Las Vegas, Nevada. He eventually created prototypes, which he refined to become accessible and government approved. The community, known as Share Village, was founded in 1994.

For the past 25 years, homeless veterans and other homeless people have been living at the community of shipping container homes. This month, more than 25 years after Share Village was born, a second village, Share Village #2, opened for people in need.

Take a look at the shipping container village Stalk and his colleagues have created for Las Vegas‘ homeless.


“There’s only one way to solve the homeless problem in our country, and that’s to build additional homes,” architect Arnold Stalk told Insider.

Share VillageArnold Stalk, left, with singer/songwriter John Fogerty and his wife, Julie.

Stalk, pictured left, has been working with homeless people for 42 years.

He began volunteering with AmeriCorps VISTA, a national foundation that helps alleviate poverty, after graduating from architecture school. At VISTA, he worked under other architects and they started building community centres.

“The first project was the methadone clinic for heroin addicts on Skid Row. And it’s been one community project after another so that’s a good run,” he said.


He got the idea to create homes from shipping containers while on a cruise, where he saw scores of disused containers at ports.

Getty ImagesShipping containers near a shipyard.

Back in 1986, Stalk was on a cruise when he saw the huge “steel boxes.” He starting thinking about their dimensions and how they could be used.

“The 8-foot-wide by 40-foot-long by 8-foot-high shipping containers are one of the only standardised industrial products in the world. And there’s about 12 million of them that are living in ports and harbours all around the world,” he said.


He said he realised the containers could create a “perfect housing grid.”

Share VillageStalk decided to use shipping containers because there are thousands of disused ones around the world.

He said they could quickly and cheaply be turned into suitable homes.


Not only were they plentiful, but they are an ideal size for micro-housing.

Share VillageThe identical shipping containers.

Stalk said he thinks shipping containers could do a lot of good as short-term housing for the victims of the Nashville tornado.


Inside, the shipping container homes are cosy and clean, with beds, storage space, and bathrooms.

Share VillageStalk and others Inside one of the shipping container homes.

Share Village has so far housed 1,834 people, and given beds to 366,942 people.

The homes themselves are larger than most tiny homes, so they have ample living space.


The homes are sectioned into three different rooms: a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen/living area.

Share VillageA view of the bedroom and living area in a Share Village home.

The homes come in two sizes: a smaller, 160-square-foot unit and a larger, 320-square-foot unit.


The living area has room for a small table and a cooking area.

Share VillageThe living area in a Share Village home.

Though Stalk says he understands why many people don’t want to live in affordable housing, he is trying to change that perspective by creating clean, quality, and affordable homes.


The bathroom in this new Share Village home is spacious with an accessible toilet.

Share VillageThe bathroom in a Share Village home.

A new village, Share Village #2, opened on March 2, 2020.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Stalk said, “This is just one solution of many things I think we ought to be doing in the building industry and the architectural community and in the philanthropy community.”


The shower is accessible as well.

Share VillageAn accessible shower in a Share Village home.

According to Military.com, about 41% of those who served after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war zones have disability ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs, compared to 25% of veterans from other eras.


The homes are also equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, like solar panels.

Share VillageThe solar panels are on top of the containers.

Stalk uses green technologies in his homes, like solar panels, to help make the homes sustainable for the long term.


Not only does Share Village provide housing, but they also help feed their community.

Share VillageVolunteers help give out food at Share Village.

Share Village has a huge amount of community support.

“Three times a week we have people come in and get all sorts of really high quality meats, cheeses, and dairy products,” Stalk said.


They have been sponsored by local companies and big brands, like Starbucks, which donates uneaten food at the end of the day.

Share VillagePeople waiting to collect food at Share Village.

So far, Share Village has distributed 2,457,664 pounds of food and given out 130,081 meals.

Stalk has raised funds in both the public and private sector to help fund Share Village. Their efforts have been funded in part by the Venetian Hotel, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the local labour union.


The Las Vegas community has come together in support of Share Village.

Share VillageA plaque outside Share Village.

Though Share Village is located right in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, Stalk says that he luckily doesn’t experience much “nimbyism”, or the “not in my backyard” attitude.

“I think we get along really well with our neighbours. We do our own security. I’m a little biased, but it is a big well-run operation,” he said.


Share Village has also created a sense of community for otherwise mostly isolated individuals.

Share VillageOne of the Share Village walkways.

Though Stalk says that the “minimal living environment isn’t for everybody,” they have managed to establish a real community. Events and outreach programs are also carried out weekly.

One homeless couple even met and fell in love at the village, and were featured in a Review Journal story.

“Those types of stories are not uncommon. You just don’t hear a lot of them,” Stalk said.


On March 2, Stalk and Las Vegas celebrities cut the ribbon on Share Village #2.

Share VillageStalk with Las Vegas celebrities cutting the ribbon on the new homes.

Stalk recently added to his housing project by adding an entirely new community of homes. The subsidized rent for each home is between $US200 and $US300 a month, far more affordable than your typical Las Vegas apartment.

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