Some homeless people gather cardboard boxes to build a tiny volume where they can sleep with less wind than if just outside.

How to call such a "home"?

  • I see "homeless house" being used but it sounds a bit paradoxical.
  • A Google Images search for "street dwelling" shows images of small but brick-and-mortar houses, so I guess it is not the word I am looking for either.

I am writing a reference text, so I would prefer a term used by government agencies or NGOs, rather than slang.

Homeless in Tokyo

  • "cardboard box house"?
    – InitK
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:49
  • 6
    I might call it a "makeshift cardboard shelter". I don't know if there is a single word that means this.
    – Era
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:49
  • @InitK: Sounds good, would you mind making an answer? maybe with a reference? :-) Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:50
  • 2
    A very minor correction: "cardboard" is a noncount noun, like most materials, so it would be "made of cardboard", not "made of cardboards".
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:57
  • You can just say cardboard house, like you can brick house or wood house
    – GoDucks
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


There are many way it can be called. Just from one article - two different ways - cardboard-dwelling and cardboard-box home:


But, it can be called just a ...cardboard box.

Edit: not really a great reference, but there you go: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CardboardBoxHome

  • 1
    Indeed! I found this song: Living in a cardboard box Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:01
  • Or just cardboard house.
    – GoDucks
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:34
  • 2
    In the US "cardboard box" is the most common way to refer to it. For example, "If I lose this job I'm going to end up sleeping in a cardboard box." It doesn't matter if some of the structures are more than one box if you are referring to them in general. We might be more descriptive if we're talking about a specific structure or camp. @CopperKettle
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:36
  • 4
    @CopperKettle: Luxury! When I were a lad, we lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank, before the council upgraded us to a small shoebox in the middle of the road. (But we were 'appy! :) Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:38

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