We employed participatory, community-based research methods to explore the perceptions of home among women who are homeless. Twenty women engaged in one or more techniques including qualitative interviews, digital story telling, creative writing, photovoice, and design charrette to characterize their perceptions of home. Analysis of the data revealed themes related to the physical, affective, and external environment. By understanding how participants perceive home and the qualities they deem necessary for home, we can begin to construct home from both a service and design perspective that meets womens needs for stable, safe housing and home, and also gain a better understanding of what is needed to assist women in exiting homelessness and building more sustainable futures for themselves and their families.


Women, Homelessness, Shelter, and Community-based Research


The authors would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the women who participated in this project. We would like to acknowledge the student researchers; Natasha Kuzmak and Braden Abrams-Reid from the Faculty of Environmental Design, Alison George from the Faculty of Nursing and Lesley Smith from the Faculty of Social Work, who worked with courage and determination so that the women’s voices would be heard. Lesley received a PURE and Alison was awarded a USRP undergraduate research scholarship from the University of Calgary to support their research involvement. We would like to thank Jillian Dowding for assisting in the manuscript preparation. We would also like to express our appreciation to Larissa Muller, Assistant Professor Faculty of Environmental Design, who assisted in the design and implementation of project. The project was funded by the City of Calgary Crime Prevention Strategy, Torode Realty Advisors Ltd.., and the United Way of Calgary and Area, Poverty Reduction Coalition though people + place. The project was supported by the Downtown Community Initiative, The Salvation Army, Centre of Hope, and the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS).

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