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Martin, A. (2023, December). Housing and Healing: The role of trauma informed design in the supportive housing sector. In Transformative Change in the Contested Fields of Care and Housing in Europe, Linz, Austria.

Posted on 17-07-2024

The built environment profoundly impacts our mental, emotional, and physical well-being and promotes empowerment. This study explores the role of trauma-informed design in the supportive housing sector, where people often live with complex needs. This conceptual paper aims to bring together the knowledge and expertise of academic and non-academic members of our society, particularly those in the housing and care sector, to explore the opportunities and challenges of implementing psychologically informed design principles.

The paper's first section consists of a comprehensive review of existing literature, examining how contemporary positive psychology and trauma theory principles can be applied to physical settings. The focus is on utilizing adjustable and flexible design codes that prioritize positive outcomes and social impact. Moving forward, the second part of the paper builds upon the findings of forty in-depth semi-structured interviews. These interviews were carefully recorded and analyzed with NVivo, following the logic of grounded theory. The diverse responses revealed both trends and differing perspectives on the role of trauma-informed design. Therefore, real-life examples mentioned by interviewees were chosen to illustrate potential ways to address contested care and housing needs with the help of various funding mechanisms.

Ultimately, the paper argues that considering the fundamental principles of trauma-informed design should be a crucial aspect of any effective social housing program, whether at the European, national, or local level. The results of this study go beyond the boundaries of specific scientific disciplines, offering a convergence of different theoretical perspectives. By considering sustainability as a matter of communicative rationality, this paper seeks to promote a holistic approach to designing supportive housing environments that prioritize the well-being of individuals with complex needs.

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