Historically Black colleges and universities have been embroiled in a student housing crisis for decades. Now, some are getting creative to address the problem.

Just in time for the fall 2023 semester, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, will transform dozens of shipping containers into dorm rooms, forming a small residential community that will house 98 students, university Executive Vice President Jens Frederiksen told NBC News. The low-cost, easily manufactured dorms will have blue and gold exteriors — the university’s colors — with private bathrooms, kitchenettes and showers inside. The project will cost about $4 million, Frederiksen said.

“I think this is a brilliant and innovative solution and it works for us,” Frederiksen said. Fisk is believed to be the second U.S. higher education institution to utilize shipping containers for student housing after the College of Idaho implemented dorm-style containers in 2020. Although shipping containers have been used for everything from housing to urban farming in the U.S., colleges and universities have only recently turned to the solution to meet student population needs.

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