Public libraries as a temporary local address for people experiencing homelessness

Public libraries as a temporary local address for people experiencing homelessness

How do people experiencing homelessness access COVID-19 resources, such as a stimulus checks? Where do they receive their daily news, updates and important information? What resources might this population need during and after the pandemic? This project reimagines Brooklyn Public Libraries’ (BPL) community services for people experiencing homelessness.

A scenario for public libraries and post-covid community services 

“The need for a temporary local address is an under-reported essential service many homeless people struggle with”says Annie Carforo of Neighbors Together. The majority of people who access Neighbors Together’s mail services end up having to travel long distances to reach the organisation. This project looks at using Brooklyn Public Libraries’ advantageous central location by making it possible to establish temporary local address services, in order to receive government resources, information, personal mail… It also envisions building a broader community, creating a sense of togetherness for the people experiencing homelessness.

Co-creating the service

After extensive research was carried out, the proposal was tested through an interactive and collaborative design workshop, regrouping a diverse set of participants, including a housing advocate, service designers, academic professionals and civic service design students. While designing the service, they addressed questions relative to the space, the service, the system and its interaction. SPACE: What does the imagined physical space that enables this service look like? Is it personal mailboxes in a mailroom or lockers? What is the easiest way to organise and distribute incoming mail? SERVICE: What agencies or stakeholders need to be involved and work together to enable this service? SYSTEM: What kind of emergency services can they provide access to through BPL? INTERACTION: What would the notification system that informs customers that they have mail look like? 

  • Porteurs de projet/Project holders :Parsons DESIS Lab, CivicService DesignGraduate Minor – Parsons School of Design
  • Designers :Maanasa Sivashankar, Callan Hajosy, Courtney Sprigg, NicoleKarsch
  • Acteurs/Stakeholders : Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)
  • Crédits photo / photo credits :Parsons DESIS Lab, CivicService DesignGraduate Minor – Parsons School of Design