HILO, Hawaii — Hawaii County is considering building a fiberglass igloo village for homeless people in Kona, which would be constructed across from the West Hawaii Civic Center.

The 314-square-foot (29-square meter), four-person igloos would be made of fiberglass, West Hawaii Today reported (http://bit.ly/2fkKzUW). Officials said the temperature inside such a dome is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than outside.

Lance Niimi, an executive assistant of the mayor charged with homeless issues, on Tuesday presented the idea to the County Council Committee, which in return asked Niimi for a master plan.

The master plan will look at the entire island and also include treatment and employment options for homeless individuals. It’s estimated that about a third of the homeless population have mental health issues and about half have substance abuse problems.

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung said the county is looking at a “horrible upward trajectory” of homelessness, and said he is afraid transient people will keep moving to the island if they know facilities are available for them.

Niimi, however, said most of the island’s homeless residents have been here more than 10 years.

“It’s a misconception that a majority of our homeless are from somewhere else,” Niimi said. “Most of them have been here for a long time.”

The county selected a 35-acre parcel off the corner of Kealakehe Parkway and Ane Keohokalole Highway for its homeless housing project, which is the first in what is anticipated to be several scattered around the island.

The next step is an environmental assessment to use about 15-20 acres (142,000 square meters) for the igloo village or alternative housing. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in during that period.


Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com