Date of Award

5-2011

Embargo Period

3-28-2012

Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)

Department

Design

Advisor(s)

Kristin Hughes

Abstract

Women with young children are a growing population experiencing homelessness. Transitional housing services provide shelter and educational programming aimed at fostering the development of skills necessary to attain and maintain basic needs.

Adagio Health’s transitional home, Healthy Start House (HSH) served as a case study in which to explore the intersection of design, service and social innovation. The metrics of success outlined by the county for HSH include attaining permanent housing and employment or education. Using a co-creative process, exploratory and generative research uncovered that the service had no clear route to assist the women to develop core competencies to meet the county’s metrics of success.

Rather than create a new extension of the current service, this design solution focuses on amplifying the resources and infrastructure already in place to improve the current service delivery. The solution includes an ideal plan for the HSH staff to work with the clients to comprehensively develop their core competencies, and an expanded view of how a money management system helps the clients meet the county’s metrics. We hypothesize, through this system, clients will re-enter society smoothly, armed with the skills and knowledge needed to provide for themselves and their children. While the design generated much enthusiasm from all stakeholders, the concept would benefit from further testing and iterations over a longer length of time to understand if it can, indeed, improve learning and performance outcomes and create sustained behavior change.

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