Housed within the Community Center, the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program sought to improve program outcomes through better serving client needs. To do so, we aimed to first develop a deep understanding of the current user’s experience through researching aspects of demographics, personal life, employment, routines, anxieties, problems, desires, and aspirations. From this understanding, new insights and opportunities for better serving clients could be developed.

Design Research Methods
Our research began with collecting data through the use of participatory research methods. Ethnographic observations, interviews, generative tools, and cultural probes were shaped to elicit qualitative feedback from participants. Through data analysis, we focused on determining how and why participants behaved or responded to research methods in order to understand the latent needs and desires that motivated their actions. With this new understanding we were able to reframe our design challenge.

Challenge Statement
How might we help Hawthorne Community Center effectively assess the internal condition of their Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing clients?

Results & Outcomes
Once our challenge was framed we could then ideate and prototype different solutions in order to determine the most appropriate intervention for all the stakeholders involved.

Working closely with the center's Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program manager, we developed an empowerment assessment toolkit that would enable program participants to externalize and discuss their internal condition through measuring three facets of empowerment:

1. Existence of choice
2. Use of choice
3. Achievement of choice

The toolkit consisted of three sets of worksheets, which facilitate interaction and discussion between program participants and case workers in order to evaluate both participant empowerment and efficacy of program services.  

Cultural Probe Toolkit
Analysis in process
Sensemaking phase of analysis
Empowerment Assessment Toolkit

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