There is a gap in homeless youth services in the United States. A vulnerable population, LGBTQ+ individuals comprise nearly 40% of all homeless youth and are particularly susceptible to repeated victimization, trauma, and violence from their community. Current shelters re-traumatize and fail to address the needs of this unique population triggering an extreme aversion to the institutional design aesthetic that many of these services inhabit. LGBTQ+ youth enter a cycle of homelessness and disengagement that perpetuates into adulthood as a result. Why do existing shelters fail to meet the needs of LBGTQ+ homeless youth?

Utilizing a series of diverse theories including the Trauma Informed Care model (TIC), architectural theory, case studies, and psychological theory, five domains for why homeless youth shelters fail LGBTQ+ youth are identified and expanded upon. From this an architectural program comprising a kit of parts is created to guide future design of homeless LGBTQ+ youth shelters to resolve identified issues. The success or failure of the implementation of the design guidelines will be measured through the creation of an assessment tool. Titled the Empathy Through Design Assessment Tool, it will be refined through being used on an LGBTQ+ friendly youth shelter before then being applied to half a dozen other youth shelters to see how many incorporates these design guidelines.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Shelters for the homeless--Design and construction; Homeless youth--Services for; Sexual minority youth--Services for; Transgender youth--Services for

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Nana-Yaw Andoh

Advisor/Committee Member

Dennis A. Andrejko

Advisor/Committee Member

Allisa Paul


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes