August 4, 2016

The History of Temporary Housing

Over the decades, temporary housing has become a necessity as travelling for business purposes has become much more common all over the world. Employees are often required to relocate, either for the short term or long term, and finding a comfortable location to stay is important. Government and military families also find themselves on the move constantly, as travel is often required in their professions. It is interesting to see how an industry that was practically nonexistent before the advent of the airplane has burgeoned into a multimillion dollar business spanning countries all over the world. This article will take a brief look back at the history of temporary housing.

Temporary housing has its roots in the early decades of the 20th century when it was used primarily for emergencies. During the great depression, many individuals lost their homes and were forced to take up residence in makeshift homes that became part of larger shanty towns dubbed Hoovervilles. Another one of the earliest examples of temporary housing being used occurs in 1945 when the Federal Government set up small trailers for the benefit of immigrants who came to America to help with the war effort. This action was expanded the following year to aid veterans of the recently ended World War II.

During the late 1970s, a non-profit group known as Irvine Temporary Housing began setting up low cost facilities for the homeless. They provided places to stay for families during the 1977 housing shortage and during the following year would provide roughly 38,000 permanent jobs to communities on the West Coast. The company experienced comfortable growth until the late 1980s when they became troubled financially. Even so, they managed to scrape up enough funding to maintain their temporary housing programs for the homeless. The agency remains in business to this day, specializing in helping families find homes and work towards self sufficiency.

Since 1989 the use of temporary housing has grown significantly, but now it is more often used by individuals travelling for business purposes than simply provided by the government for those in emergency situations. However there are certainly exceptions. In 2005 FEMA became the country’s leading provider of temporary housing by launching what was the largest operation in the history of the country to provide homes for more than 143,000 individuals who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

These days it is estimated that 1 out of every 5 Americans will move during any given year, most often due to the need to relocate for a job, and temporary housing is often necessary to make the change go as smoothly as possible. Different options these individuals have to choose from have historically only included regular hotels and extended stay hotels, but the industry has now expanded to offer fully furnished temporary housing which allow occupants to stay for 30 days or longer. This gives individuals and families the ultimate experience in comfort by being able to stay in an apartment that looks and feels just like home.

Lawrence Tyrone Reaves is a Richmond corporate housing consultant at, a temporary corporate housing provider that works in conjunction with in the greater central Virginia region.