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Manatee man, students turn shipping containers into homes for homeless students

Bayshore High School carpentry students will be using their building skills to convert the containers into living space.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Manatee County has nearly 800 homeless students. One man with the help from one school is trying to do something about it.

At first glance, it appears like just a regular metal shipping container. But these carpentry students at Bayshore High School will be using their building skills to build homeless students a home.

“I think it’ll be good for someone in the community, to live here instead of on the streets,” says Gabriel Coblentz, a 12th-grader at Bayshore High School.

Miles Detko, an 11th-grader, says, “Basically everything in an average-size home will have to fit in this small container … kitchen, living room, bedroom.”

The shipping containers are used. The container at Bayshore High School came from China.

“The containers hold 67,000 pounds of goods,” says Hudson Slaughter, Bayshore's carpentry teacher. The container has 160 foot of living space and with some retrofitting can be turned into a home with furnishings straight from the store. Nothing is custom-made to fit.

Glenn Gibellina is the man behind Project Heart.

“My goal is to get every homeless student and veteran off the street and teach an army of students to build these," he said. "You only need three things to build one … a skill saw, drill and tape measure. It’s off the shelf nothing is custom in this building.”

Miles says it feels good to use his new skills to help other students.

“I want them to know there is somebody there for them they will be safe inside this home.”

Gibellina says this is not a “tiny home” as commonly seen on TV home shows. He says those are regulated by the Department of Transportation.

Gibellina says these are modular homes that exceed the Miami-Dade building code and are hooked up to electricity and septic tanks, like any addition on a home. If one were to buy one, it would run around $25,000.

Gibellina is trying to round up public and private funding for Project Heart.

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