Private Space: Parent


Parenting, supervising, and opportunities for bonding with children

Private rooms create space for healthier families.
Individual units provide the opportunity for families to establish a routine; relax and eat together; and strengthen parent-child bonds. They also alleviate many of the conflicts associated with parental supervision and make parenting easier.
Residents in focus groups found it challenging to accomplish these fundamental parenting tasks in crowded and busy communal settings:

  • Making and eating food with their children
  • Choosing who and what children were exposed to
  • Getting ready for school
  • Sticking to bedtime routines
  • Helping with homework
  • Reading, playing and cuddling.

Several Washington programs use individual apartments in their emergency housing programs; staff from these programs report fewer issues with parenting. Advocates spend less time on issues related to supervision of children and thus have more time for advocacy.

(Top) A brighly-colored room with a daybed and small table. (Below) A cluster of small cottages around a shared yard.

Strategy in Action
Top: A room for single women or women with infants at the YWCA Pierce County.
Bottom: Individual cottages for families at the Women’s Crisis Center of Taney County, Branson, Missouri.

Consider This
Research suggests crowded communal living conditions cause: reduced graduation rates for youth; delays in children’s cognitive development, particularly ages 1-5; increased blood pressure; increased feelings of hopelessness; impaired parent-child relationships; and increased psychological distress (Center for Housing Policy Study, July 2007).

Individual apartments ease homework time a great deal.
Parents want to help their children with their nightly homework and encourage their children to read. In an individual unit, children can find a quiet spot to do homework and check in with their parent – who may be preparing a meal – as needed.

A small room with desk and chair for studying or working
“When its homework time, I will shut everything down and my door is locked. Some of my friends will just walk in, but when it is homework time, that’s me and my daughter time, she needs to focus on her homework and she can’t be worrying about who’s knocking at the door.” -resident in individual apartment

Flexible spaces with shared amenities make it possible to accommodate very large families, multiple smaller families, or several individuals.
When individual apartments with private kitchens and bathrooms are not possible, smaller, shared units can keep the scale of communal living more manageable, or adapt to house one very large family.

A plan of a multi-bedroom apartment unit