City of Philadelphia

Homeless Services

How can Philadelphia use participatory design to improve homeless services?

Partners and Funders
City of Philadelphia

The project

Philadelphia’s Participatory Design Lab, founded in 2017 after winning a  Knight Foundation Cities Challenge award, is working with Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, conducting a comprehensive assessment of Philadelphia’s homeless intake services, with an eye towards making operational improvements and piloting new programs. Public Policy Lab is partnering with PDL, acting as strategic advisors throughout their year-long service design engagement with the Office of Homeless Services.

In order to identify service-related needs and gather ideas for improvements, 221 stakeholders across the service ecosystem—outreach, intake, diversion, prevention, after-hours, and emergency housing—have been engaged by the Participatory Design Lab team via in-depth interviews, shadowing on-the-job, field observations, and interactive brainstorming workshops.

The Outcome

Deliverables from the Participatory Design Lab’s engagement include comprehensive design proposals for spaces and information in Philadelphia’s intake centers, as well as system recommendations for future development. Detailed description of project outcomes are available on the City of Philadelphia’s website, including: