A fleet of still-functional city buses in Hawaii sits idle simply because the vehicles have too many miles for continued use in their current capacity, creating a unique opportunity to redeploy them toward helping the homeless. Thanks to a group with a vision and starting this summer, these retired transit vehicles will begin to be turned into mobile spaces and service centers for local populations in need of a place to stay and other basic necessities.
Developed by volunteer architects and Honolulu-based Group 70 International, the idea is simple: each of the dozens of buses will be converted to a single new purpose, providing bedroom spaces in some cases but also places to get cleaned up, accept and deploy donations (warm meals, fresh produce and clean clothes) and much more.
From bathrooms and showers to sleeping quarters, each conversion can be done with tools and materials from the local hardware shop and be completed with unskilled volunteer labor. These relatively low-cost retrofits are designed to be donation-driven, providing all of the amenities of traditional homeless shelters with added flexibility and portability.
The resulting fleet will be versatile, able to split up and move in sections depending on need and travel to various locations to serve target groups where they are found. Existing seating inside the buses will be stripped and removed then replaced with remodeled elements suited to each vehicle’s new use. The first two conversions are to be completed by the end of this summer, ready for test deployments.