The unfortunate paradox of the architectural profession is that it prides itself on being of service to the public, yet it is those most in need of an architect’s service that can least afford it. With conditions of mental illness, drug abuse, and disability at the crux of homelessness within our communities, architecture has a unique opportunity to create supportive and relief-driven environments, wielding the power to positively influence the lives of those who lack stability.
This thesis explores the need for transitional housing; a temporary form of housing bridging the gap between emergency shelters and affordable housing. Its goal is to facilitate restabilization for homeless populations and to provide a means of relief for existing emergency shelter systems. The purpose of this thesis is to redefine the implications of homelessness and our response to it in today’s society. Firstly, it seeks to challenge the inherent biases and stigmas associated with homelessness. Secondly, it provides a fundamental understanding of what homelessness is and the pressures imposed on associated shelter support systems. Thirdly, it elaborates on the existing shelter support systems and their facilitation of people’s transition back into society. Finally, the thesis concludes with a design proposal to develop transitional housing in downtown Cambridge, Ontario. The design proposal seeks to address the growing trend of homelessness in the Region of Waterloo by targeting the transitional populations who are most vulnerable and yet most likely to benefit from stability.