HAWAIIAN PARADISE PARK, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - While government is still talking about how to house people displaced by the eruption, a Big Island church has already broken ground on a new village for evacuees.
And it could be move-in ready by early August.
Over the past week, a lush one-acre lot off Kaloli Drive has undergone a transformation. All of the vegetation has been removed and the property was leveled.
Pastor Dion Maeda, of Connect Point Church, said the progress is a product of teamwork. Several Hawaii Island churches put out a call to their congregations and in a single Sunday managed to raise enough money to purchase 10, 120-square-foot micro-homes.
Several Hawaii companies have also donated their supplies and services to get the project off the ground.
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"These are every day working people that are sacrificially donating because they see the need in the community," said Maeda.
On Tuesday, the county said it knew of at least 477 eruption evacuees in need of housing.
Thousands remain displaced as the eruptions continue on the Big Island, where as many as 700 homes have been destroyed.
While the homes the church is building are only temporary, Maeda says the project will provide people stability until something permanent comes along.
"It's a safe place where they can lock up their things and close the door when they leave," said Maeda.
He expects to get county approval for the project any day now so foundation work can start this weekend.
Although the homes are paid for, some of the infrastructure is not. Money is needed for utilities as well as things like restrooms and showers, a community kitchen and a place to do laundry.
"Our hope is to raise at least another $25,000 to complete this project," said Maeda.