More creative ideas needed for homeless
Old buses are being refitted to give shelter to people who have no place to sleep.
Converting old tour buses bound for the scrap heap into mobile lodging for people who have no place to sleep shows how inventive approaches can chip away at the stubborn problem of homelessness.
Even though a single bus has space for only eight, it will still give eight individuals respite from spending the night on the beaches or streets of Oahu. When all 19 buses donated by Roberts Hawaii are refitted, the vehicles that previously carried sightseers could serve as temporary havens for more than 140 people unable or unwilling to stay in conventional shelters.
The buses, the first of which will be a prominent feature for a fundraising walk around the island through next week, represent the different strategies being hatched for helping people who do not have homes for various reasons. While shelters are useful for families needing an interim location, other individuals might prefer wider latitudes shelters might not provide.
The shelter buses, partially funded by a state grant, are a pilot program developed by Utu Langi, who supervises the state's Next Step shelter in Kakaako. The vehicles will stop each night at a location and give people a meal, a place to sleep and services. Come morning, the people leave and the empty bus moves on.
Refitting the buses costs several thousand dollars. Langi hopes the fundraising walk will bring in donations as well as draw interest from churches and community groups who can provide spaces for buses from time to time. Because each bus houses so few people, the burden should not be too great.
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