The state's first igloo dome shelters open to help Hawaii's homeless
The transitional home for women and their children will be the first of similar shelters expected across the state in the coming years.
KANEOHE, Hawaii - The name of a newly opened transitional housing lot fits its mission. What’s being called "The Shelter,” will be a temporary home for nearly 45 single homeless women and their children.
“I think the people who move in will feel a sense of value, dignity, and ‘ohana,” said Pastor Klayton Ko, Senior Pastor at First Assembly of God, Kane’ohe, and visionary behind the dome shelters.
It’s the first time Hawai’i is seeing the full development of dome shelters. With help from InterShelter, Inc., an Alaska company that brought the dome concept to the islands, the short-term living spaces are made from fiberglass. Twelve structures in total are built right on the property of the Assembly of God church in Kane'ohe to be used as a solution to O’ahu’s homeless crisis.
Pastor Klayton Ko says he’s thrilled to see the dream come to life, but admits it wasn’t easy. First, getting through the zoning and permitting process, then tending to concerned neighbors.
“We wanna add value to the community, and so we assured them that we as a church – that we will do everything in our power to ensure those who live here are safe, and they will be a benefit to the community,” Ko said.
To do that, the church is teaming up with the professionals who work with the homeless community for a living. Connie Mitchell, executive director for the Institute for Human Services says, helping mothers get back on their feet and into a permanent space is a priority.
“We would be helping them with developing a plan into how they’re gonna get into housing. Help them get a job, or a better job, or a second job in some cases,” said Mitchell.
Out of the twelve domes, nine will be designated for residents, two will be used for restrooms, and the last reserved for an on-site resident manager.
With more than $500,000 in donations raised for this passion project, visionaries hope this pilot will spark more dome- inspired housing in the future.
The spherical shelters come furnished with basic living necessities. Pastor Ko says they expect the first family to move in come November.