More than 500,000 Americans are homeless during any given night of the year, and the number is far greater worldwide. Homelessness is a significant threat to productivity, self-esteem, child wellness, and the human spirit. Built environments where people who have experienced homelessness live, learn and heal are an important, contributory part of recovery from this crisis.
While research-informed information exists that can help shape interior design and architectural decision-making for environments that help these persons, this information is scattered and difficult to find. If gathered in an easily accessible place, curated information from fields such as environmental psychology, biology, neuroscience, interior design, architecture can better inform designers and sponsoring organizations about how to design buildings more effectively so that people feel safe, less crowded, and better about themselves—oftentimes without increased construction costs. This knowledge could support the thoughtful planning of multiple project types including permanent supportive housing/housing first environments, day centers, transitional and emergency shelters. Central to its approach is that multiple perspectives shape its information, including the perspective of those of persons that need assistance.
In this time of persistent debilitating homelessness, and also the growing realization that new approaches to affordable housing are beneficial such as the housing first model of care, is time to gather forces and bring perspectives together that can benefit the future for persons in crisis, and by extension, human society.