Humane Adaptive Reuse: Old city buses to become mobile homeless shelters

When Honolulu, Hawaii wanted to find a new way to help its growing homeless population, it turned to an unlikely source: old city buses.

We were looking at solutions and options that are out there that are within our grasp,” says Jun Yang, executive director of the office of housing for the City and County of Honolulu. “What do we have at our fingertips?

The local government had learned about Lava Mae, a new program in San Francisco that turns decommissioned buses into portable showers for the homeless. Honolulu, it turned out, also has a large supply of old buses. Right now, about 70 are slated to go out of service. Eventually, the buses would have been recycled and scrapped.

The bus shelters should be fairly easy and cheap to build; the Department of Transportation will likely donate the buses, and local carpentry unions will donate labor.

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