By Kathy Ficcadenti

By Kathy Ficcadenti

Often, individuals we work with have been the victims of trauma, including the trauma of being homeless.

Click here to read the entire October 2020 newsletter

In Community Housing, we provide permanent supportive housing to the critically homeless population. Oftentimes, we work with individuals who have been the victims of traumatic events, including the trauma experienced by being homeless. To effectively manage this population and to facilitate growth and change, it is crucial that all our staff be trained in trauma-informed care.

In trauma-informed care, it is imperative that staff understand trauma exists, how it manifests after the event, and how it impacts the livelihoods of our clients and their families.

We understand that housing alone will not cause these symptoms to disappear on their own. If trauma is not addressed in some way, it is likely that these individuals will not be able to live up to their full potential and eventually return to homelessness.

Housing Services case managers are trained to identify a variety of responses and symptoms in our clients, many of whom experience the following:

  • Anxiety, sadness, or anger
  • Trouble concentrating and thinking clearly
  • Obsessive thoughts about the event(s), or flashbacks
  • Excessive worry, anxiety, fear
  • Feeling angry, resentful, or irritable
  • Having nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Isolation and withdrawal

  responses   To respond effectively, staff applies the principles of a trauma-informed approach to all areas of service. This involves being be committed to creating a physically and emotionally safe environment, as people with trauma are often triggered and re-traumatized. Any kind of toxic or stressful environments can interfere with the recovery of clients.

To create an atmosphere conducive to growth, our case managers work to provide the Six Key Principles of a trauma-informed approach:

  1. Safety is a high priority as victims of trauma require a sense of physical and psychological safety.
  2. Trustworthiness & Transparency is required in all aspects of decision making. Decisions and options must be determined with openness and clarity.
  3. Peer Support and mutual self-help are used to promote healing and recovery.
  4. Collaboration & Mutuality is important for a meaningful sharing of power between staff and clients.
  5. Empowerment, Voice, and Choice occurs when client’s strengths and experiences are recognized and built upon, allowing a client to find their own voice.
  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues require a commitment to moving past the cultural stereotypes and bias that impact so many people’s lives.

  Six Key Principles of a trauma-informed approach

Community Housing successfully houses chronically homeless individuals with disabilities and their families every year with the help of US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants. To be successful, we constantly challenge ourselves to traverse the many obstacles and barriers faced by our clients. In the end, we are able to successfully assist well over 90% of our clients maintain their housing each year.

Each year, our clients make strides – sometimes incremental – toward autonomy, personal success, and accountability. We’ve seen that individuals can heal from trauma, though it takes time, compassion and focus. Our greatest reward is when we see healing and integration begin, and feelings of self-hatred and loathing are transformed into self-respect, worthiness and wholeness.

For more information on Community Housing, contact Kathy at or (816) 659-8269.

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