Homelessness is traumatic. People experiencing homelessness often live with a multitude of personal challenges, such as the sudden loss of a home or adjusting to conditions of shelter life. Some people, particularly women, may have histories of trauma, including sexual, psychological, or physical abuse. Most families who are experiencing homelessness are headed by single women, and these women experience posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use at a rate higher than the national average.
Within the larger society, people experiencing homelessness often are marginalized, isolated, and discriminated against. Additionally, they are highly vulnerable to violence and victimization, and re-traumatization becomes a distinct possibility. Given these concerns, it is important to understand the linkages between trauma and homelessness, and the impact on ensuring quality care.
For more information:
- Pilot projects are showing success in using the Housing First model to secure safe housing for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
- Toxic stress during childhood harms an individual’s long-term health and well-being.
- The head of Nashville, Tennessee's Metropolitan Homelessness Commission discusses the mental health, substance use, and trauma concerns of men experiencing homelessness.
- SAMHSA’s Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Coping with Retraumatization explains the signs and symptoms of re-traumatization, gives guidance on how to manage the symptoms, and provides resources for dealing with triggering events.
- SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach defines trauma before presenting 6 key principles and 10 implementation domains of a trauma-informed approach.
- Find more SAMHSA resources on trauma.
Access more mental and substance use disorders and homelessness resources or search SAMHSA’s store.