After years of planning and prep, church opens igloo-shaped shelters to the homeless

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Dec. 11, 2018 at 8:01 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than two and a half years after an Oahu church made international headlines for its plan to build igloo-shaped shelters for the homeless, families are finally moving in.

Watching her children play, one of the village’s new residents told HNN it’s the first time in months she’s felt safe.

“It’s scary not knowing what you’re going to do,” said Sara.

The mother of two says she is a survivor of domestic violence. We’re not using her last name to protect her identity.

“There was violence and drugs in my home growing up,” she said. “Then I got myself into those same type of relationships and I’ve finally had the courage this time to step out of it. To do better because I want better for my children.”

On Saturday, her family was the first to move into “The Shelter.”

The transitional housing facility is located at First Assembly of God Windward Church in Kahaluu. It will help homeless mothers and their children get back on their feet.

“To see the first residents move in. It was like you know the best Christmas gift we could ever receive,” said Pastor Klayton Ko.

It was a vision made reality by members of Hawaii’s faith community.

Churches from across the state raised a half million dollars to construct this village of igloo shaped shelters.

Although it took two years for the city to issue building permits, Ko never wavered on his mission to help the homeless.

“We’re hoping to include them in the church and the family of God and provide support for them,” said Ko.

Sara says the church has restored her faith in humanity and for the first time in a long time she’s optimistic about the future.

"My goals are really to build a strong foundation which is what I didn’t have before,” said Sara. “I see a light at the end of the tunnel for me and my family. This shelter has given me so much hope and it showed me there are still people out there that care.”

Right now the church is looking for land to expand in central Oahu and along the Waianae coast.

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