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Trauma-Informed Design for Homeless Populations

Pam Light, Deborah Sperry, Lori Selcer, Kay Sargent
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Trauma-Informed Design for Homeless Populations

Pam Light, Deborah Sperry, Lori Selcer, Kay Sargent
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Trauma-Informed Design for Homeless Populations offers housing shelters and other social service agencies practical design guidelines for creating spaces that reduce stress and nurture healing for people experiencing homelessness.

Supported by a generous grant from the American Society of Interior Designers, this report draws on existing research, insights from design professionals and feedback from social service agencies that offer designers, contractors and shelter providers with guidance on creating healthy and supportive spaces for vulnerable populations. Specifically, the report examines:

  • Client Needs and Design Considerations – Offers an overview of the types of people experiencing homelessness and associated traumas, their unique needs and design solutions to address those needs.
  • Staff Needs and Design Considerations – Provides a look at how design can nurture the happiness, health and performance of staff and volunteers working within different facility types.
  • Trauma-informed Design Strategies – Offers design recommendations for specific challenges facing shelters, including:
    • Layout and Planning: How to create efficient and safe spaces.
    • Comfort: Tips for designing inviting and calming environments.
    • Paint and Color: How to select wall and accent colors to support resiliency and reduce stress.
    • Furniture Types: What to consider when adding new or additional furniture to a room.
    • Flooring: Choosing the best flooring type for a space.
    • Cabinetry and Counters: Material finishes for warmth and resiliency.
    • Healing Power of Nature: How elements of nature can improve health and wellness.
    • Lighting: Creating warm and inviting environments.
    • Visual Stimuli: How art, color and graphics can lift mood and outcomes.
    • LEED and Wellness: Takeaways from LEED and WELL design principles.
  • Budgeting – Funding for building improvements and construction can be especially challenging for shelters that rely on donations and governmental assistance. A pricing guide within the report allows shelters to get an advance estimate of project costs.
  • Trauma-Informed Design in Practice – Offers case studies on how existing shelters and other social service providers are using trauma-informed design to create healthier, more supportive environments.

A high-resolution version of the report (suitable for printing) may be accessed here: Trauma-Informed Design for Homeless Populations

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