The Independent Living Unit Project: Evaluating a compact, transitional, independent living housing model for homeless men
Transitional housing programs are developed as an intermediate step, assisting individuals to move from emergency services to permanent housing. While the built environment is a vital element in support of user-centred service delivery, very little is known about how the confluence of settings and program operations fit with the purpose of programs. There is a gap in the research on the lived experiences of those experiencing homelessness in transitional housing, and specifically on how design features of transitional housing settings and support services are related to residents’ perceptions and outcomes for certain sub-groups of the homeless population.
This research aimed to investigate and evaluate the success of the Independent Living Unit Program (ILUP), a transitional housing program provided by Samaritan House and run by The Salvation Army. The research evaluated the ILUP’s success according to the provider’s goals and residents’ qualitative experiences in terms of both the material (built) environment and the program design. The research aimed to evaluate the impact of living in well-designed, relocatable, prefabricated, compact housing on residents’ transitioning processes to more permanent housing, and then explore how transferable the model is for similar housing providers.
Theoretical contribution: A conceptual framework was developed that highlights the importance of creating forgiving contexts that support the facilitation and resourcing of independent living and meaningful community connectedness for a promising transitioning process.
Practical contribution: This ethnographic study provided a formal mechanism to raise the voice of residents for ongoing improvements within the program. Further, it reflected on the nature of a place to call home after homelessness, and suggested valuable insights into evidence-based design strategies and explanations on what works and what does not in a similar context.
Place of publicationGeelong, Vic