Homelessness involves the loss of home, community, stability, safety, and social networks. On top of the ongoing stressors associated with homelessness, an overwhelming percentage of homeless individuals and families have experienced additional forms of trauma including physical and sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, community violence, and family disruptions. For the purpose of this brief, homelessness or homeless refers to the definition set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which considers an individual homeless if he or she lives in an emergency shelter, transitional housing program, or a place not meant for human habitation, such as a car, abandoned building, or on the streets.
In recent years, homeless service settings have increased their understanding and response to the complexities of trauma; however there are still opportunities for improvement. Trauma-informed care in homeless service settings recognizes and responds to clients’ previous trauma, approaches clients through a strengths-based lens, and provides clients with safety, respect, and choice.
This issue brief examines connections between homelessness and trauma, overviews a trauma-informed care framework in homeless services, and exemplifies trauma-informed approaches within homeless service organizations in Virginia. Information is provided to help homeless service providers and organizations approach their clients, agency, and staff with a trauma-informed lens. See brief.