April 28, 2016; Associated Press
The success of states across the nation in handling the need for homes, shelters for the homeless and the poorest Americans, varies widely. The Illinois budget impasse halted funding and brought programs to a standstill. Utah’s sparkling success, reducing their homeless rate by 91 percent with the Housing First Initiative, is a bright spot, but on the flip side, there’s the continuing failure of New York City, where the homeless rate is 86 percent higher than 10 years ago with shelters in horrible condition. In a case with several layers, a church in North Carolina protested the placement of a shelter next door, although they provided meals for the community. Even across the warm Pacific Ocean, the problem exists: Hawaii declared a state of emergency in 2015 with 465 per 100,000 residents homeless.
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The Hawaiians search for roofs for the homeless individuals who camp around the islands, looking for answers to the high cost of living in that state. There is no denying that their responses to the crisis have been creative—from yurts to shipping containers to hales—and now…igloos.
The First Assembly of God church in Honolulu plans to order a dozen igloos to put on land they had planned to use as a cabin retreat on the windward side of Oahu. The igloos are made of 21 panels that overlap like fish scales—Don Kubley of the Juneau-based InterShelter, which manufactures the igloos, says they “stack like Pringles potato chips”—and offer some natural climate control. Each boasts 314 square feet, and can hold four people while still fitting in the bed of a pickup truck. The church has raised $100,000 for the project.
The company that builds the igloos, Pacific Domes, has proposed such encampments in other cities, but has not had any takers to date. A group of the domes in Los Angeles housed about 35 people from 1993 to 2006, but that igloo village closed because the land rent was too high.—Marian Conway