An affordable housing complex built from a dozen old shipping containers was unveiled today in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The 12 shipping containers on Alexander Street near Jackson Avenue have been converted into apartments by the Atira Women's Resource Society, which bought a lot on the block in 2009. The first shipping container was dropped on the lot at the end of November, and each unit cost $82,500 to build.

The 320-square-foot containers have been stacked three high and feature 290 square feet of living space. Each unit has its own private bathroom, kitchen and in-suite laundry. The homes also have floor-to-ceiling windows, and each floor is linked by an external staircase.

The shipping containers once carried goods across the ocean from Asia and have been modified at a Richmond, B.C., shipyard.

Some of the homes will eventually be occupied by women over the age of 55, who will pay $375 a month in rent, while other units are intended for younger women, who will pay about 30 per cent of market rent.

"There are many women who would like to live here," said Atira CEO Janice Abbott.

"Many women are teary when they see this because most of them have spent most of the last decades in single room accommodation hotels — the idea of having their own kitchen, their own bathroom — and as you can see these units are particularly beautiful."

Abbott says the older tenants must have roots in the community, must be addiction-free for the past three years, and must be interested in mentoring the young women living next door at Imouto Housing for Young Women, as part of Atira’s Intergenerational Mentorship Program.

Atira has set Sept. 1 as the move-in date, however the tenants have yet to be chosen.