Sustainable Housing for Hawaii’s Homeless

Project Overview

This project aims to provide aid to Hawaii’s homeless population. Over 5,000 people are currently homeless on Oahu, and the number has continued to grow each year, resulting in Hawaii having the nation’s largest homeless population per capita. Currently, homeless shelters such as IHS do exist, however there is simply not enough space to house the majority of the homeless people living here. Many people are not simply out of a job, but are in fact working full time. The cost of living in Hawaii is so high that many families are not able to afford rent, even with two working parents. The proposed housing development would consist of multiple units that comprise an apartment complex that would provide shelter to those waiting for available low-income housing, or those who have been turned away from pre-existing shelters due to lack of space.

Hawaii’s weather is very humid, so the complex would need to use a material that allows for ventilation and doesn’t trap heat inside. Building materials would need to be relatively inexpensive, considering that there would need to be a considerable amount of these units being built in order to minimize the homeless population on the streets. A large space is also needed for this project, since privacy is something many homeless people don’t get if they are sleeping in shelters or on the streets.


I found multiple structures that use shipping containers as their primary structural component and used them as my main inspiration. I found both architectural renderings as well as already constructed, fully functional buildings and used these designs to help me piece together my own.

Related Projects:

Client Interview

In order to get a better idea of what homeless communities in Hawaii really need, I interviewed Linda Kawano-Ching, an educator at Punahou School who is very active in terms of volunteering in these communities.

Audio file of the full interview:

Summary of the interview:

Mrs. Kawano-Ching is an educator at my school who is very active in the homeless community, and volunteers regularly at a number of homeless encampments around the island. She gave me an idea of the biggest communities and their needs, as well as the housing they already have access to. I learned that creating a sense of community is the most important thing when designing a housing complex for a homeless community, and keeping in mind the specific needs of each community could make a big difference in terms of who ends up actually utilizing the structure. She also explained the outreach programs she is involved with and how they benefit the community.

Location :64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786

This location is a large stretch of agricultural lands that are currently for sale. It is a rural area that is about 2 miles away on either side from the two nearest towns. This location is very close to a well-known and quite large homeless encampment which is located alongside the Helemano Reservoir. It is walking distance from both both the encampment and the nearby towns, making an ideal location for both convenience and possible rehabilitation and employment opportunities.


Repeated Floor Plan (x3)
First Floor/Community Room Floor Plan
Single Unit Design
3D Elevation Design


Getting Involved in Your Community:

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  1. April 25, 2019 by Sadie Stinson

    I really like this presentation! I actually did mine on homelessness in the Bay Area, and it sounds like we both face similar issues. Affordable housing in the Bay Area is a huge issue, especially with all of the tech companies that are being created. All of these young millennials need a place to stay, and so the people who have been living here for a while are being kicked out. I was wondering how/who you think would pay for this? Would it be government or privately funded?

  2. April 26, 2019 by Gio Collao

    I really like your presentation. I think you did a great job bringing awareness to the homelessness of Hawaii. I had no idea how big of an issue it was. People always see Hawaii as a tourist spot, and don’t ever think of the many residents who are homeless due to the high cost of living. I love your design and solution and find that it would prove to be very beneficial.

  3. April 26, 2019 by Dash

    I really liked this project. It brings attention to Hawaii’s homeless population, which is a much bigger issue than I thought, and really uses external sources effectively. I think that it’s really interesting how such a simple thing such as a shipping container can inspire a full housing complex. This seems really well thought out and well made. I think that it could help a lot of people. I was wondering how you made your 3D design?

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