Buffalo’s New Homeless Housing Complex Offers Padded Park Benches

A responsive design for homeless people who are uncomfortable in confined spaces

Photo via the Homeless Alliance of Western New York's Facebook page.

“Housing first” is the concept that guided the planning of Buffalo, New York’s newest housing complex, a $5.6 million structure called Hope Gardens built to accomodate 20 chronically homeless women. This is why, in addition to studio apartments, the planners decided to install padded park benches in the complex’s spacious gardens, offering the homeless women an opportunity to sleep outside. Advocates of the project say this kind of design is responsive to the needs of women who’ve lived outside for so long they may no longer be comfortable sleeping in confined spaces.

“The chronically homeless respond best to the Housing First model,” says Karen Carman, coordinator of homeless services for the Matt Urban Center to The Buffalo News. “Some of these women have been on the streets for over 10 years. Many of them don’t do well in shelters.”