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Hawaii News

Church would house homeless in igloos

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    Designer Don Kubley of InterShelter Inc., left, and Klayton Ko, senior pastor at First Assembly of God, took a look inside an igloo home Tuesday at First Assembly of God church in Moanalua. The 12-foot-tall, 314-square-foot “spherical domes” from Juneau, Alaska, come at a bulk rate of $9,500 each to house up to four homeless people at a time.


    Pictured at top is an igloo home at First Assembly of God church in Moanalua. The church has unveiled a dome shelter village concept to house homeless.

Red Hill’s First Assembly of God church wants to erect a dozen igloo-­shaped domes from Alaska to create a “shelter village” somewhere in town for about 40 homeless people.

Klayton Ko, the church’s senior pastor and the district superintendent of more than 100 Hawaii Assembly of God congregations, hopes Mayor Kirk Caldwell follows through on his pledge to clear permitting issues for churches that want to house the homeless.

Caldwell’s offer to church leaders last year — along with a promise to provide housing in the form of converted shipping containers — was meant to help them adopt a single homeless family on church property.

But that’s not First Assembly of God’s plan.

Today, Ko and Pastor Daniel Kaneshiro, who serves as facilities pastor and director of First Assembly of God’s startup homeless program, will show off the first dome, which is currently sitting in the church’s courtyard, and unveil the shelter village concept to the media and to Jun Yang, executive director of the city’s Office of Housing.

“We as a church are looking for a solution that we can offer the community,” Ko said.

Kaneshiro has no intention of replicating the work of Oahu’s homeless shelters, particularly the Institute of Human Services, which provides a range of help, from substance abuse counseling to job training and medical services.

“We cannot do what they’re doing,” Kaneshiro said. “We’re trying to identify our own niche.”

Those who could move into the domes would not need to be church members, Kaneshiro said, but they “have to be willing to change internally” and God has to represent “a spiritual aspect,” he said.

Ko hopes to buy 11 more of the 12-foot-tall, 314-square-foot “spherical domes” from Juneau, Alaska, at a bulk rate of $9,500 each, to house up to four people per dome. One of the 12 domes would be used as a shower/bathroom, and another would serve as a communal kitchen.

Ko said the shelter village could not be located on the church’s Red Hill property because it’s near a school.

“The liability issue is still real,” Ko said.

Some of the igloo-shaped structures could be erected on church-owned land in Kahaluu, but Ko hopes that the state, city or a private landowner provides at least an acre or two of land in town — perhaps through a low-cost lease — because that is where Ko believes the greatest need for housing exists.

First Assembly of God members already provide food to the homeless and have donated $100,000 to make a bigger dent in reducing the country’s highest per capita homeless rate, Ko said.

In July, Ko got the idea to actually provide housing via the domes. “The Lord put that concept in my heart,” he said.

Among his duties, Ko also serves on Hawaii’s pastors’ roundtable and hopes other churches “sponsor” a homeless family by paying for one or more domes.

Don Kubley, president and CEO of Juneau-based InterShelter Inc., which sold the first dome to First Assembly of God, said the domes can be assembled with just a screwdriver and wrench in three hours, using only fiberglass panels and marine-grade, stainless-steel nuts and bolts that will not rust.

Ko ideally would like to use the domes to house working homeless mothers and their children who have few issues other than the inability to afford long-term housing.

He has no intention of targeting hard-core, “chronic” homeless who often have alcohol, drug or mental health issues.

“If they’re abusing drugs, that’s a different level of social services we’re not prepared for,” Ko said.

He envisions the village being democratically run by the residents and protected by security.

The families would be required to pay a nominal fee or work off their fee through some form of community service, just as IHS and other shelters have them do.

Ko ideally would take in highly functional clients who transition out of IHS, which would clear bed space at IHS.

Once in the church’s igloo-shaped domes, Ko hopes to see the formerly homeless families stabilized and moving on to longer-­term housing within a year.

“This issue is so complicated,” Ko said, “we cannot have one approach.”

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  • Cheap structures with no electricity or water. In 2-3 years, they will end up in Hawaii’s landfill. For $10K they could rent a real 300 sq ft apartment for a year. Just did a quick check on Trulia and there are about 20 of those for rent right now. If there is support for prefab housing in Hawaii, someone needs to build a real trailer park.

  • Just as there are ENGINEERS in Hawaii who knew not to build THE RAIL; there are ARCHITECTS and Land Planners in Hawaii who can create “Affordable Villages” on State and County Lands that would/could also provide longer-term Housing, with INFRASTRUCTURE to service the aforesaid “Villages”… Any and everything that contributes to the immediate solution of our horrific HOMELESS CRISIS should be ACTUALIZED, FORTHWITH…

      • As a local boy with koko…..who actually went to school in North Dakota, I have seen those Mandan structures and I can tell you first hand they are remarkable. Covered with earth and big enough to house horses and other animals during those tough winters. The Sioux, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara peoples knew how to take care of their lands and build appropriate structures on them. I love the Dakota people. I enjoyed going to college and playing ball there. I still visit when I can. We had 13 Hawaiians playing ball back then in the ND. Great times.

  • Good way to think outside the box to solve this problem. There’s a lot of vacant land that they could put these things. Probably a lot cheaper than the stuff they built on Sand Island recently.

  • The ironic thing in all this, here’s a church trying to do something about this scourge infesting this State yet over at the “square building downtown the homeless are all over the place! There’s the State archive building next to the Capitol and I saw a homeless guy sleeping with his little puppy in between the building and the wall, and another homeless guy at the back of the State library. Guess all these legislators have gotten used to it or something.

  • Is it just me, or an optical illusion, but doesn’t the interior photo of the dome look WAAAAY more spacious than the exterior shot would indicate? The interior photo looks like you could shoot baskets in there!

  • The one important thing they aren’t telling you is that these structures are designed to withstand winds in excess of CAT 2 wind strengths (96-110mph)if secured to proper foundations! Most homes in Hawaii would be demolished at CAT 2, all gone at CAT 3 or CAT 4 except reinforced CMU.

    • Wouldn’t that be ironic? A CAT 3 storm hits and the ones with homes become “homeless” while these homeless in their IGLOOS are watching DVD’s on their generator driven large screen TV’s.

  • Great, so you house a bunch of homeless. You do realize that these homeless still won’t have the money to rent out other places after their lease is up so they will be out living on the street again. Either that or you will have to let them live in these places for life. And what of the thousands who will become homeless in the next decades? More camps like this? The problem is that we are losing the homeless war, temporary structures are only a short term fix but doesn’t help in the long run. Doesn’t take a genius to realize that we need to create more affordable housing but unfortunately that means creating more low income communities like KPT and other low income developments to house the homeless and people who cannot afford to rent a place.

  • Appears like these cost half of what CADwell is using for the Sand Island “shelters”/concentration camps. But then again, CADwell was never concerned about saving us taxpayers money.

  • Thatched homes and now igloos. Good ideas but missing the point. Question: How do we get homeless to not be homeless and contributing members of society. That’s where the focus should be.

    • You provide a change to better provided the homeless are willing to accept responsibility. As a responsible person they help clean and maintain where they live including the bathroom and kitchen. They even learn to seek some form of employment to pay for their housing and food. As they attain self respect they gather the means to enter back into society. This is the process we all hope for. Why not ship the igloos as parts only. Put the pieces together here – less cost to ship and less cost to buy. The homeless could help put the igloos together, with supervision – sweat equity in the project.

  • Please, all this is nonsense. Herd them all onto a container ship destined for the mainland ASAP. This homeless battle to help them is ridiculous and will solve none of the underlying issues other than waste money. There already are 600+ empty beds in homeless shelters any given night. These homeless people have no desire to live in shelters, they are mostly mentally ill and/or serious drug addicts. Please write to the politicians to SHIP THEM OUT! This island does NOT have the proper resources to shelter, feed or care in any way for these bums and the mainland has cheaper food for them so they can eat healthier meals there too.

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