Informing housing practices through photovoice with older adults who experience homelessness or housing insecurity

June 20, 2023

Mahmood, A., Patille, R., Victoria, I., Bookmyer, G., Lam, E., Mora, D.J., Gurung, S., Canham, S.L. (2023, June). Informing housing practices through photovoice with older adults who experience homelessness or housing insecurity. [paper presentation]. Environmental Design Research Association Conference. Mexico City, Mexico.


The concept of aging in the right place (AIRP) emphasizes that older adults' environment must support their diverse needs and vulnerabilities to age optimally. Currently, there is limited research on what aging in the right place (AIRP) means for older persons experiencing homelessness (OPEH). This study's objective it to identify concepts of AIRP that relate to one's social and physical environment through photo documentation of individuals lived experience in a temporary housing program (THP). Photovoice interviews were conducted to collect data consisting of three sessions with 11 OPEH with diverse backgrounds and housing experiences. Photovoice allowed participants to express what physical and social environmental elements were important to them through joint photo taking and dialogue. Three 30-90-minute interview sessions with each participant allowed for nuanced insights into how the THP contributes to AIRP for OPEH. Interviews were transcribed and a coding framework was developed to analyze insights from OPEH. The findings demonstrate that the THP is a steppingstone for OPEH to AIRP. The emerging themes contributing to AIRP are: 1) mobility and access in the community, 2) social interaction, 3) supportive nature of THP, and 4) engagement with built and natural environment. To conclude, photovoice provides an opportunity for OPEH to actively engage in research, tell their stories through visual representations, and reflect on key environmental features that are important to AIRP. Findings can help bridge current gaps in knowledge and provide guidance to transform program practices related to housing for OPEH by offering insight on the environmental barriers and facilitators of AIRP.