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Study for a shelter courtyard 
Design Resources for Homelessness
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Trauma-informed design

Design Resources for Homelessness is a knowledge resource that shares information about practical research, best practices and related content on the design of facilities for persons that are experiencing homelessness. It addresses emergency, transitional and permanent supportive housing types, housing first projects, and also day centers, clinics, and service outreach facilities. It is a non-profit initiative funded by donations and grants.  Its information is provided without charge. 


This curated collection includes best practices case studies, reports on the needs of persons in crisis, and extensive bibliographies of evidence-based, practical information for use in architectural programming and organization requests for donor funding.  It fills the need to connect the findings of relevant practical research to these ideas’ use within constructed environments. The result can be enhanced recovery for persons afflicted with the trauma of homelessness. 


Design Resources for Homelessness provides information to diverse groups:

  • Shelter-sponsoring non-profit organizations

  • Policy-making bodies

  • Building professionals engaged in the design and construction of facilities for homeless persons including architects, interior designers and construction engineers

  • Design researchers, educators and students interested in public service design, including the design of facilities that serve unhoused people.

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Kearney Emergency Services Center, Tallahassee Florida
CRA Architects

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 facilities 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 facilities 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 facility types including permanent supportive housing/housing first facilities, 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 trauma-informed design and 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.

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3rd Avenue Apartments, New York
James McCullar Architecture

The mission of Design Resources for Homelessness

Design Resources for Homelessness believes that an important part of healing from the crisis of homelessness can be realized through the thoughtful physical design of built facilities that assist these persons. Architecture can be a supportive prescription for healing that is best leveraged by bringing research and evidence-informed knowledge to the design of these important places.


The mission of Design Resources for Homelessness is to positively affect the design of facilities that assist persons who are homeless or formerly homeless. It does so by connecting design practitioners and scholars, advocacy organizations, policy makers, teachers and students to research and other information as well as each other, to inform design decisions that enhance the potential to assist recovery.  


We believe

  • All persons deserve to be sheltered in humane and supportive physical environments so that they can recover from trauma and resume their lives as full members of the community.

  • Dignity, empowerment, safety, function and economic efficiency can be supported by physical architecture.

  • The free exchange and sharing of knowledge advances societal progress.

  • Generating new knowledge can move design innovation forward to the benefit of all.

Design Resources for Homelessness

Design Resources for Homelessness is a project of United Charitable, a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, EIN 20-4286082. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.


All funds raised by Design Resources for Homelessness are received by United Charitable and become the sole property of United Charitable which, for internal operating purposes, allocates the funds to the Project. The Program Manager or Donor-Advisor makes recommendations for disbursements which are reviewed by United Charitable for approval.

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