Designed for Home: Opportunities for Enhanced Ontological Security in Permanent Supportive Housing Apartments

Christina Bollo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To maximize the number of new dwelling units for people experiencing long-term homelessness, permanent supportive housing (PSH) developers have minimized the floor area of such units, creating very small studio apartments in purpose-built, single-site housing projects. The objective of this study was to reveal the variety of spatial organization patterns of these apartments and to assess if theoretical hallmarks of ontological security—constancy, the ability to conduct day-to-day routines, identity construction, freedom from surveillance—may be supported by design decisions. This is the first study to closely examine the interior layouts of such dwellings, despite 1,840,000 PSH apartments having been built in the past 13 years. The dataset is a representative sample of 24 PSH studio apartment floor plans. The archival plan analysis examined typological features of the apartments and the affordances and attributes related to the hallmarks of ontological security. A key finding is that overall layout is determined primarily by entry sequence decisions: constancy and freedom from surveillance may be enhanced by close attention to the layering of this space. A second key finding is that the ability to conduct day-to-day routines and construct identity may be enriched by apartment layout and storage provision. Thus, despite the size constraints of PSH apartments, designers could possibly enhance ontological security affordances through defined layout, ample storage, and a layered entry sequence. For PSH residents, achieving ontological security in their dwellings is a necessary step toward recovery from long-term homelessness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Interior Design
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


Dive into the research topics of 'Designed for Home: Opportunities for Enhanced Ontological Security in Permanent Supportive Housing Apartments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this