A grand opening ceremony was held Wednesday morning for a handful domes built to shelter the homeless in Kaneohe.
Called “The Shelter,” the domes are the first of their kind to serve Hawaii’s homeless, according to the Honolulu-based First Assembly of God Pentecostal church, which has six campuses across Oahu, and spearheaded the project.
In Kaneohe, a total of 12 dome shelters were unveiled at 47-323 Ahuimanu Road. Nine of the domes are expected to house residents and a resident manager. Two of the domes will feature six full restrooms.
An official move-in date has yet to be set.
Senior pastor Klayton Ko came up with The Shelter in response to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s appeal in 2015 for the faith community to find solutions to Hawaii’s homeless problem.
“Today proves that the faith community is ready and able to step up to be a part of the solution to the homeless crisis,” Ko said. “We are hoping the city and state will see by partnering with the faith community, we can make a difference to end homelessness in Hawaii.”
That year, Ko discovered InterShelter Inc., a company in Alaska that makes fiberglass domes for medical missions and refugee camps and thought it would be a good fit for Hawaii.
The construction of the domes has been a two-year process. With help from local design firm G70, the church was able to navigate the zoning and permitting process to make the project a reality.
Several churches have sponsored the purchase of a dome to help fund the project, with the belief that the solution to homelessness involves not only physical shelter, but spiritual shelter as well, the church said.
The church said the new, transitional shelter for women and children is the first phase of similar shelters that will be built across the state in coming years.