Primary Research on Homelessness

Surveys

For this week's project, our group wanted to expand on secondary research by doing primary research on homelessness. We wanted to expand on what we had already learned around history, cause, effects, reform, and population.

We first started off by identifying the main stakeholders for the primary research we wanted to conduct.

Our main stakeholders are:

  1. Homeless

2. Social Workers that work with the Homeless

3. Faculty for Organizations that work with the Homeless

Then we moved on to identifying which methods we would be using to conduct this research:

Surveys

Ethnography

Expert Interviews

User Interviews

Once that was decided, we all split up the work to focus on one type of method and stakeholder. I was assigned to reach out to faculty that worked with the homeless, and after calling 10 different soup kitchens and numerous emails sent out, I failed to connect with any faculty. I learned that conducting user interviews such as these takes time to schudule.

So next option was to team with my teammate to get a survey from the public on homeless. We decided to send out a survey through Surveymonkey.com, and the criteria we set was that there was no age or gender restitutions, but household income had to be between 0–100K.

The research questions we asked on this survey were:

The Demographics of the Survey were mainly between the ages of 18– 44 and earned an income of $25,000 — $75,000.

66% of participants had either experienced homelessness or knew someone who had.

The survey gave us information around their primary reasons for homelessness:

Some participant's reasons for being homeless were because they were kicked out, ran away, had family or relationship issues, or were lawfully evicted.

We had two fields that were blank and left open for participants to fill out. We received a lot of insightful comments around better housing programs, education, help for getting jobs, support for mental health issues, the unsafe environment of the homeless shelters. Below are some more examples:

After going through all this data, I realized there was a common theme all participants were mentioning and the lack of education or support for folks to get back on their feet, and if that's resources for job help, mental health, or finding low-income housing. After doing this exercise, I can see a gap in having a solution for the homeless to have a one-stop-shop either an app or help in person, to help them back on their feet.

Final Thoughts

This exercise was super eye-opening, not only into the issue and the gaps that exist but also the struggle to schedule user interviews. Note to self, always give yourself a couple of weeks to schedule interviews.

founder of sood, designer @ amazon, grad student @nyu