website on computer screen

In an effort to help 40,000 residents across Hawaiʻi who live in Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) housing, the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center (UHCDC) and UH Mānoa’s School of Architecture students and faculty have designed and launched a COVID-19 resource website that provides updates on HPHA initiatives, COVID-19 information and connects residents to assistance programs.

The website shares updates on HPHA-led initiatives such as rent adjustments, new access to online banking, eviction protection, at-home learning for children, meal delivery for the elderly and prevention of domestic violence. The website also serves as a one-stop location for all sorts of COVID-19 information from national and local sources.

public housing
Mayor Wright Homes public housing.
website diagrams
Website diagrams to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Most critically, the website connects residents to a wide array of local nonprofits and institutions offering access to meals, groceries, supplies, childcare, education, financial assistance, healthcare, transportation, technology and social services.

Architecture graduate students, Keliʻi Kapali and Christina Holcom, assisted principal investigators, Karla Sierralta, architecture assistant professor, and Brian Strawn, UHCDC senior research associate, in launching the COVID-19 resource website in only two weeks.

“We designed the website in close collaboration with HPHA over the past two weeks,” said Strawn. “Our illustrations and some of the design attributes of the site are informed by our previously developed design framework and community engagement tools.”

The website is being launched with translation into 10 languages; Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese, Samoan, Tongan, Thai and Lao.

This project is part of an ongoing research effort, Housing for All in Hawaiʻi. The initiative is currently exploring the “Future of Hawaiʻi’s Housing” in a holistic way.

“As part of a holistic design approach to housing, we envision neighborhoods that are walkable, equitable and sustainable, with features such as ample outdoor spaces and lanais for all, but also including digital social platforms that inform neighbors about current issues, events and resources tailored specifically to their needs,” added Sierralta. “This website serves as a quick prototype for a ʻcommunity platform,’ currently dedicated to the COVID-19 crisis, but representing the potential of future HPHA offerings.”