Integrated Design Research: Unhoused

Background

Legislation change in 2019 made the topic of people without housing rise to the forefront of most minds. In my integrated design seminar course my team and I decided to prototype a solution for one of the pain points the unhoused face.

Preliminary Research

The team conducted weeks of research to pin-point the top pain points and the areas we could help the most in. Week 4 we decided that the issue of resource allocation and distribution was our calling.

Field Research

With our problem defined, we conducted field research to talk to those directly and indirectly experiencing the effects of homelessness. We interviewed a sample of people without housing, scholars researching the area of homelessness, EMT/Fire direct responders who interact with the unhoused, and shelter/clinic workers in the Austin area.

Key Findings

As we conducted in person and virtual interviews, the following themes and findings began to emerge.

  • Homelessness rates are steadily increasing in both the US and UK
  • There is a prevalence of electronic use in the unhoused community
  • Sense of identity decreases and is replaced with the necessity of survival in the unhoused community
  • Chronic homelessness has a negative impact on identity and sense of self

Prototyping

As we interviewed more people without housing our problem and our solution goal became clear— we wanted to shift the current dynamic in resource allocation in order to address the associated loss of identity in the unhoused community.

Right now, those not experiencing homelessness control what is given to those who need the resources, the unhoused. In order to give autonomy and identity back to people without housing we would need to adjust this dynamic. We created an app to do so.

Resources App

View App here.

After field testing and tweaking, the following is a prototyped resources app. The app allows the unhoused community to select the items they want to pick up, research and view shelters in the area (using 360 video), and ultimately regain autonomy and a sense of identity with each decision they make for themselves.

Have a connection to further this research?
Please reach out at [email protected] Thank you.