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New City Initiative is committed to finding ways to reduce traumatic stress for families that experience homelessness

Homelessness & Trauma

Homelessness and trauma are inextricably linked.  Traumatic experiences, particularly in early childhood, are often a contributing factor in homelessness.  And the experience of homelessness is itself a form of trauma. People who have experienced trauma may have great difficulty forming healthy attachments, expressing and regulating emotions, and acquiring a sense of mastery or self-efficacy in life. And this can lead to increasing isolation, a breakdown of relationships and community, and an eventual slide into homelessness.

Each of us is born with an innate desire to explore the world, acquire new skills, have new experiences, and expand the horizons of our consciousness. We are also born with an innate spirituality, which can be defined as a sense of connectedness to ourselves, others, the world, and what is greater than ourselves. This sense of wholeness constitutes the “spiritual birthright” of every human being. Traumatic experiences may be understood as those events that cause fractures in this original sense of unity and well-being.  Trauma refers to anything that blocks a person’s life energy and inhibits that person from fully expressing his or her rich human potential.

New City Initiative's purpose is to foster communities where all people can achieve their full human potential.  We are committed to finding ways to reduce traumatic stress and create a sense of safety and stability for families that experience homelessness.  We think this has the potential to reduce the intergenerational occurrence of homelessness.

Watch a short video from Harvard's Center on the Developing Child about reducing toxic stress for children

Some Statistics:

People who experience homelessness have often have trauma in their past:

  • Over 25% of homeless adults lived outside their home at some point in their childhood
  • 25% reported physical or sexual abuse as a child
  • Over 1/5 reported childhood homelessness
  • 36.2% had a history in foster care, as compared with 2% of the overall population

(Roman & Wolfe, 1995; Volk, Guarino & Konnath, 2007)

The experience of homelessness causes trauma:

  • Over 50% of adults who have experienced homeless (in the studies below) reported experiencing significant trauma (rape, combat, assault, witnessing a person severely injured or killed, accident or sudden injury, or other traumatic event)
  • 22% were physically assaulted or beaten
  • 31% were physically or sexually abused
  • 46% were shot at and 49% were attacked with a knife or sharp object

(North & Smith, 1992; Volk, Guarino & Konnath, 2007)

"Trauma refers to anything that blocks a person’s life energy and inhibits that person from fully expressing his or her rich human potential."

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