​Homes on wheels: Hawaii may turn old buses into homeless shelters

​Homes on wheels: Hawaii may turn old buses into homeless shelters
An architecture firm in Aloha State has come up with an innovative solution to alleviate the problem of homelessness in their locality. It is giving some retired city buses a second life by transforming them into homeless shelters.

“The idea is to convert [the buses] into living, sleeping, showering, recreational facilities," Ma Ry Kim of Group 70 International architecture firm told Hawaii News Now.

Kim added that the entire design of homeless shelters “is based on the premise that you could walk in to a hardware store, buy everything you need in one go and build everything with no trade skills."

Such shelters will differ from recreational vehicles (RV), trailers or cars which are equipped with living space and amenities found in a home.

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"We're fitting some out to be bathrooms and showers, we're fitting some out to be sleeping areas, and the design completely folds away like a little Japanese tatami mat.”

According to Kim, the company is planning to complete two buses in summer 2015 and to open the first five shelters by the end of this year.

Homelessness has increased dramatically in recent years in Hawaii, the Pacific island archipelago with a population of 1.5 million people that is one of the US’s major tourist destinations. According to the Hawaii Department of Human Services, homelessness in Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has risen by 40 percent.

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In 2014, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell declared “war on homelessness,” saying that “the sidewalk is not meant to lie on.”

We cannot let the homeless ruin our economy and take over our city,” he added.

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Hawaii city authorities’ attitude to homeless people hasn’t always been sympathetic. In 2013 the state embarked on a controversial “social cleansing” program to reduce the size of the state’s homeless population by offering them a one-way ticket out of state.