Integrated Design Research: Homelessness


Homelessness is an ongoing topic of discussion in Austin.

Homelessness in Austin is nothing new. However, legislation change in 2019 made the topic of homelessness 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 those experiencing homelessness face

Preliminary Research

The team conducted weeks of research to pin-point our top pain points of homelessness 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 experiencing homelessness, scholars researching the area of homelessness, EMT/Fire direct responders who interact with those experiencing homelessness, and shelter/clinic workers in the Austin area.

Below are resource sheets we distributed to people experiencing homelessness in order to gauge resource allocation and need.

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 community of people experiencing homelessness
  • Sense of identity decreases and is replaced with the necessity of survival in people experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • Chronic homelessness has a negative impact on identity and sense of self


As we interviewed more people experiencing homelessness 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 people experiencing homelessness.

Right now, the resource rich (the homed) control what is given to those who need the resources (those experiencing homelessness). In order to give autonomy and identity back to people experiencing homelessness 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 people experiencing homelessness 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.