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.
The genesis of Design Resources for Homelessness arose naturally, and over time. Jill Pable, Ph.D., FIDEC, ASID is project lead of Design Resources for Homelessness and a professor in the Department of Interior Architecture and Design at Florida State University. For the past ten years, the subject of Jill’s research has been the effective design of environments that assist homeless persons. As she developed literature reviews to inform her studies, she realized that there is little dedicated research in this sector within design, but there are relevant insights for this population in a diversity of fields including neuroscience, environmental psychology and social work. Design practitioners engaged in planning these projects would contact her searching for information that would guide their decision-making. Realizing that no central information source existed and that a broad base of research findings would stand the best chance of helping everyone, she resolved to create a solution. Design Resources for Homelessness was conceived after conducting a national focus group survey on the topic and engaging in discussions with practitioners, scholars, advocacy organization leaders and persons that are homeless. The resulting collection of research-informed reports, case studies and similar thought projects is the beginning of a resource intended to help inform the positive design of environments ranging from permanent supportive housing/housing first projects to shelters and day centers.
This project has been launched with the financial support of the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation as well as the Council for Research and Creativity of Florida State University. This non-profit initiative is supported by its strategic partners and funded by donations.
84% of design researchers/educators/students expressed that it is somewhat to very difficult to locate information that would help them design homelessness physical environments.
More than 70% of all respondents felt it was ‘very important’
to develop this resource.
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