HAWAIIAN PARADISE PARK, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several Puna families who have spent months living in an eruption evacuee shelter moved into places of their own on Tuesday.
Hale Iki Village, located in Hawaiian Paradise Park, was funded without the help of government.
The property — all 11 micro-units, even the utilities — were paid for entirely through donations from area churches and the community. In all, the project took less than four months to build.
Each unit is only 120 square feet, but volunteers went to great lengths to make sure every inch feels like home.
In all, 16 churches and close to 60 business donated money, time, labor and materials to make Hale Iki a reality.
"Our hope is that by us and the whole community stepping out that these people really feel loved on by the community and that they have the support of the people surrounding them who are trying to help them take the next step in this journey," said Connect Point Church Pastor Dion Maeda.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the first three families moved in. All of them had been staying in the county's evacuation shelters, which closed the day before.
In addition to the micro-homes that are monitored by 24-hour security, there are separate men's and women's bathrooms, along with a common area equipped with washers, dryers and a kitchen.
"Each day they can come and make themselves a breakfast or lunch," said Maeda.
For dinner, three local churches have volunteered to alternate weeks cooking.
Tenants are charged $5 a day and split the cost of utilities.
In the meantime, housing specialists from Hope Services will help each family find a permanent home.
"This is transitional. We know this isn't there end point," said Maeda. "They are not alone. They have people who love them, who are praying for them. Who are cheering them on."
Like much of the state, Hawaii Island is in the midst of a housing crisis.