Church hopes to open innovative igloo-shaped homeless shelters by summer

Published: Apr. 12, 2017 at 8:20 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 12, 2017 at 9:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Red Hill church made international headlines last spring after it raised more than $200,000 to construct igloo-shaped shelters for homeless.

And in the next two weeks, church leaders say they expect to get the permits to start building.

If all goes as planned, "The Shelter" could start housing people as early as July.

"I know that our people here in our congregation, they've been waiting," said senior Pastor Klayton Ko.

It's a project that's proved to be a test of a patience. For more than a year, church leaders at First Assembly of God on Red Hill have been working to secure city permits to begin construction on the village.

"We're so close we've actually put in our order for the 12 domes," Ko said.

The community will be built on the Windward side of the island in an area service providers say is in desperate need of temporary housing. The exact location will be announced once the city OKs all the paperwork.

"From there, it's just a matter of preparing the ground and the arrival of the domes," Ko said.

Once "The Shelter" opens, it will serve single moms with children -- up to about 40 people.

The Institute for Human Services will handle case management and prepare residents for permanent housing, while the church plans to focus on spiritual and emotional healing. Because it's not a state-funded program, it doesn't have follow state rules won't have to move families out in 90 days.

"They can spend more time developing relationships with people and really extend that kind of Aloha and support  that you really can't do in a tight time frame," said IHS Executive Director Connie Mithchell.

On April 28, Ko will sponsor the 2nd annual Faith-based Summit on Homelessness. Organizers are inviting other congregations to take a look at the project and will answer questions about the process.

"If every church did something we could easily end this problem," Ko said. It's just getting people to get started. Getting churches to get started."

Down the road, the First Assembly of God hopes to partner with the city and the state to replicate "The Shelter" in other parts of Hawaii.

To register for the faith summit, click here.

Mobile users: Click here to see a slideshow of the igloo shelters.

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