Homelessness and trauma: a vicious cycle


It’s broadly recognised by practitioners, policymakers and teachers that the issue of homelessness and tough sleeping extends past a housing difficulty, and is intimately linked to a number of drawback and trauma. To finish homelessness and tough sleeping for good, there should be versatile, responsive, trauma-informed assist to handle the impacts of trauma in addition to housing wants, but often these experiencing homelessness are excluded from accessing the care and assist they want (Armstrong et al., 2021; Timms, P. & Drife, J., 2021).

Although there’s an growing physique of analysis evidencing the connection between homelessness and trauma (Crowe et al.,2021; Cockersell et al., 2018; Garrett et al., 2022; Hopper et al. 2010; MHCLG, 2020; Moreton et al. 2020), quantifying this, in addition to understanding the complicated mechanisms by which they work together, stays a problem.

This bold analysis commissioned by homelessness charity Oasis Neighborhood Housing is each an vital contribution to our understandings of those phenomena, and a compelling name for change to coverage and follow. The researchers discover the prevalence of trauma amongst people with expertise of homelessness and take into account the effectiveness of accessible assist to be able to inform their coverage proposals (Irving and Harding, 2022).

To end homelessness and rough sleeping for good, there must be flexible, responsive, trauma-informed support to address the impacts of trauma as well as housing needs.

To finish homelessness and tough sleeping for good, there should be versatile, responsive, trauma-informed assist to handle the impacts of trauma in addition to housing wants.


The researchers employed a mixed-methods method, drawing on each quantitative and qualitative knowledge sources. Firstly, they carried out a quick overview of related tutorial, coverage and gray literature, reflecting upon the latest literature of the connection between homelessness and trauma, and the applying of trauma-informed interventions.

Secondly, researchers collected main knowledge by a questionnaire accomplished by Oasis Neighborhood Housing service customers. This included each open and closed questions, protecting demographic data, experiences of homelessness, trauma, and of accessing assist companies. 115 surveys have been accomplished over a 12-week interval, representing 19% of the 598 individuals accessing their companies throughout this time, a superb response charge relative to comparable research, particularly given the consumer group was individuals experiencing homelessness associated crises.

Lastly, the publications and stories from the Fulfilling Lives Programme, a Large Lottery funded nationwide programme supporting individuals experiencing a number of drawback, have been reviewed, together with a detailed scrutiny of over 100 outputs.


1. Prevalence of homelessness

Fairly than utilizing statutory definitions of homelessness or contemplating solely the individuals’ present housing scenario, researchers understood homelessness by way of a long-term, repeated expertise of precarity. Practically two thirds (59%) of individuals have been in a type of momentary, supported lodging, solely 17% have been at present tough sleeping, but simply 17% thought of themselves to be in settled lodging.

Considerably, homelessness was demonstrated to be a persistent, recurrent scenario for a lot of. The imply common variety of years spent homeless was 2.5 years, with a number of over 10 years, and one participant reporting 44 years. The imply common variety of events of getting been homeless was 3, in some instances as many as 20.

2. Prevalence and impression of trauma

Trauma was extraordinarily prevalent. Making use of the SAMHSA 2014 definition, which emphasises people’ subjective expertise of hurt and ongoing opposed results (SAMHSA, 2014), practically all individuals (92%) reported lifetime expertise of trauma. For many this was repeated, or complicated, trauma, with solely 14% reporting having skilled solely a single incident of trauma, and 50% reporting having skilled 5+ incidents or extended trauma.

The researchers tried to quantify the impression of trauma by figuring out 11 distinct impacts of trauma. The most typical impacts have been psychological well being or emotional difficulties, skilled by 90%; relationship difficulties, skilled by 75%; and unfavourable view of self, skilled by 67%. There was a reported affiliation between the variety of cases of trauma and the variety of impacts.

3. Relationship between trauma and homelessness

The analysis additionally detailed the complicated methods during which these experiences intersect. Practically three quarters of individuals (73%) had skilled each homelessness and trauma, with a 3rd stating trauma was stopping them from shifting on from homelessness. The expertise of homelessness appeared to amplify the expertise of trauma. Whether or not trauma preceded, coincided with, or adopted homelessness, affected the variety of unfavourable impacts reported, with the best imply variety of impacts reported (7.4) for trauma that occurred because of homelessness.

4. Entry to assist

There have been often boundaries to accessing psychological well being assist, reminiscent of companies’ unwillingness to work with these with twin prognosis and sophisticated wants, and basic lack of flexibility from companies. 63% had accessed specialist assist for trauma, and people with a proper prognosis (64%) tended to seek out it simpler to entry such companies. Experiences with homelessness companies tended to be extra optimistic (although not universally so), with these making use of psychologically-informed and trauma-informed approaches being efficient.

This research suggests that repeated and complex trauma is highly prevalent in people who experience homelessness.

This analysis means that repeated and sophisticated trauma is extremely prevalent in individuals who expertise homelessness.


The analysis powerfully demonstrated trauma, usually repeated and sophisticated, to be extremely prevalent amongst individuals, and powerfully elaborated the:

complicated and infrequently mutually reinforcing relationship between trauma and homelessness.

The findings affirm the significance of trauma-informed rules in enabling entry to psychological well being and housing associated assist.

These findings affirm the importance of trauma-informed principles in enabling access to mental health and housing related support for those experiencing homelessness in all its forms.

These findings affirm the significance of trauma-informed rules in enabling entry to psychological well being and housing associated assist for these experiencing homelessness in all its varieties.

Strengths and limitations

Researchers made an bold effort to measure the extent and impacts of trauma, and to offer depth and element by the individuals’ phrases. Homelessness and trauma are tough to quantify, and all approaches to defining and measuring these constructs had strengths and limitations.


Researchers opted for a broader definition of homelessness, which thought of individuals’ personal subjective understandings, which may doubtlessly embody some that won’t fall beneath statutory definitions of homelessness. Equally some individuals appeared to interpret homelessness extra narrowly than the researchers or Oasis Neighborhood Housing, for instance 10% of respondents didn’t take into account themselves to have ever been homeless or liable to it. There may be worth in defining homelessness on this person-centred method, as long as warning is exercised when evaluating or generalising findings towards research utilizing definitions. Likewise, given Oasis Neighborhood Housing gives specialist assist to these with wants reminiscent of psychological well being, substance use and expertise of home abuse along with homelessness, there are limits to what may be generalised about these experiencing homelessness in all its varieties.

Nonetheless, the analysis was illuminating about this particular cohort of individuals experiencing repeated, long-term homelessness, and a number of drawback. UK coverage targets tough sleeping as probably the most ‘excessive’ type of homelessness in comparison with different types of unsafe, unstable, and unsuitable lodging, whereas many different European nations as a substitute distinguish between long-term homelessness accompanied by complicated wants, and short-term, situational homelessness (Bretherton and Pleace, 2018). This deal with narrowly outlined tough sleeping usually fails to seize the complete extent and complexity of homelessness, notably of girls (Ladies’s Improvement Unit, 2022) and different marginalised teams, whose tough sleeping and homelessness experiences comply with completely different patterns. In emphasising the repeated, persistent nature of individuals’ homelessness moderately than quick housing scenario, this analysis helps this extra nuanced understanding of homelessness.


Researchers allowed individuals to outline their experiences of trauma for themselves based mostly on the impression it had on them, moderately than utilizing predetermined checklists of specific occasions or experiences. This has the benefit of centring individuals’ voices and avoiding potential retraumatisation, however limits the scope for comparability. As with homelessness, researchers suspected an underreporting of traumatic experiences. For instance, 45% of individuals reported trauma in childhood (this was not damaged down into how most of the Adversarial Childhood Experiences (ACES)), whereas round 50% of the final inhabitants are thought to have skilled at the least one ACE (Asmussen et al., 2020)


Feminine individuals reported a better variety of cases of trauma, with 59% reporting 5+ cases or extended trauma in comparison with 40% of male respondents. Feminine individuals reported a median of 6.5 impacts, in comparison with a median of 5.7 for male individuals (though with out confidence intervals it’s tough to evaluate how significant these variations are). Nonetheless, the researchers largely attributed this discrepancy to male individuals under-reporting trauma. But as regards to homelessness and tough sleeping, analysis demonstrates that girls are actually much less prone to come ahead for assist. They have a tendency to tough sleep much less visibly, are usually not reached by supported companies, and infrequently expertise tough sleeping and homelessness companies as unsafe and unsuitable for his or her wants. Which means that their difficulties have change into extra entrenched by the point they do entry assist (Hutchinson, Web page and Pattern, 2014 & Ladies’s Improvement Unit 2022).

This research supports a more nuanced understanding of homelessness by emphasising the repeated, chronic nature of participants’ homelessness rather than their immediate housing situation.

This analysis helps a extra nuanced understanding of homelessness by emphasising the repeated, persistent nature of individuals’ homelessness moderately than their quick housing scenario.

Implications for follow

The researchers made a number of suggestions for coverage and follow of how wants associated to each homelessness and trauma may be understood and addressed collectively.

Firstly, the researchers advocate enhancements inside homelessness assist companies, reminiscent of embedding trauma-informed and person-centred inside commissioning specs and authorities funded employees coaching. Given the function of gender, in addition to different intersecting identities and desires, in how homelessness and trauma are skilled, this could possibly be additional developed by making this express inside the proposals. As an illustration, service design and supply may be gender-informed, contemplating the particular methods ladies expertise homelessness, and the necessities to arrange secure women-only areas in combined companies.

Moreover, researchers thought of how psychological well being companies could possibly be extra supportive and inclusive of these experiencing a number of drawback and with complicated wants, reminiscent of finding devoted professionals with experience in homelessness inside psychological well being groups and embedding NICE pointers on coexisting extreme psychological sickness and substance misuse. We might add that companies also needs to have experience in gendered types of trauma, which are sometimes related to homelessness.

Lastly, the researchers name for better cross-sector collaboration throughout housing, well being and social care sectors, with an emphasis on prevention and with extra sources dedicated. The Ladies’s Improvement Unit would assist this, notably given that girls experiencing homelessness and tough sleeping could current in several companies and settings. We recommend that VAWG companies needs to be amongst these sectors working collectively to enhance responses to these experiencing homelessness and trauma.

This work calls for greater cross-sector collaboration across housing, health and social care sectors, with an emphasis on prevention and with additional resources committed.

This work requires better cross-sector collaboration throughout housing, well being and social care sectors, with an emphasis on prevention and with extra sources dedicated.

Battle of curiosity



Major paper

Irving , A. and Harding, J. (2022) The Prevalence of Trauma amongst Individuals who have Skilled Homelessness in England, A Report for Oasis Neighborhood Housing (PDF).

Different references

Armstrong, M., Shulman, C., Hudson, B., Stone, P., & Hewett, N. (2021). Limitations and facilitators to accessing well being and social care companies for individuals dwelling in homeless hostels: a qualitative examine of the experiences of hostel employees and residents in UK hostels. BMJ Open, 11(10)

Asmussen, Ok., Fischer, F., Drayton, E. & McBride, T. (2022) Adversarial childhood experiences What we all know, what we don’t know, and what ought to occur subsequent, London: Early Intervention Basis.

Bretherton, J. & Pleace, N. (2018). Ladies and Tough Sleeping : A Essential Assessment of Present Analysis and Methodology, College of York, Centre for Housing Coverage

Cockersell, P. et al., (2018) Making use of psychology as a response to the impression of social exclusion. In Social Exclusion, Compound Trauma and Restoration: Making use of Psychology, Psychotherapy and PIE to Homelessness and Complicated Wants (ed Cockersell, P). Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Crowe, M., Devereaux, J. & Jobson, M. (2021) Adversity, Trauma and Resilience in West Yorkshire. Fulfilling Lives: West Yorkshire Discovering Independence.

Deck, S. & Platt, P. (2015) Homelessness Is Traumatic: Abuse, Victimization, and Trauma Histories of Homeless Males, Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24(9): 1022-1043.

Division of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (2022) Ending Tough Sleeping for Good

Garrett, D., Rieley, R., Cooke, C., Dowding, Ok. (2022) The Trauma Stabilisation Pilot: A Assessment of Trauma Intervention for Individuals with A number of and Complicated Wants. Fulfilling Lives: South East Partnership.

Hutchinson, S., Web page, A. and Pattern, E. (2014) Rebuilding Shattered Lives. London: St Mungo’s

Hopper, E., Bassuk, E. & Olivet, J. (2010), Shelter from the storm: Trauma-informed care in homelessness companies settings, The Open Well being Companies and Coverage Journal, 3: 80-100.

Moreton, R. & Welford, J. (2022) ‘Greater than a roof’ – Addressing homelessness with individuals experiencing a number of drawback. The Nationwide Lottery Neighborhood Fund.

MHCLG, 2020. Understanding the A number of Vulnerabilities, Help Wants and Experiences of Individuals who Sleep Tough in England. Preliminary findings from Tough Sleeping Questionnaire.

Nolan, A. & Butler, S. (2018) Liverpool Waves of Hope Lodging Primarily based Service: Classes from a Psychologically Knowledgeable Strategy. Fulfilling Lives: Liverpool Waves of Hope.

SAMHSA (2014) SAMHSA’s Idea of Trauma and Steering for a Trauma-Knowledgeable Strategy, SAMHSA US.

Sweeney A, Clement S, Filson B, Kennedy A. (2016) Trauma-informed psychological healthcare within the UK: what’s it and the way can we additional its improvement? Psychological Well being Assessment Journal 21 (3) 174-192.

Timms, P., & Drife, J. (2021). Psychological well being companies for single homeless individuals. BJPsych Advances, 27(2), 104-114

Ladies’s Improvement Unit (2022), A Technique for Ending Ladies’s Homelessness


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