In Bozeman, a new village for the homeless embraces trauma-informed design
Following the lead of cities elsewhere, one nonprofit turned to tiny houses as a quicker way to add sorely needed affordable housing in Bozeman. What sets this particular tiny-home village apart is an element that isn’t always part of housing schemes designed for people experiencing homelessness: The project embraces trauma-informed design.
“For most of our customers here, particularly those who have very low fixed incomes or very sporadic incomes, the types of housing that are available to them are almost always much older, subsidized apartment buildings,” says Tracy Menuez, a community development director at the Montana-based nonprofit Human Resources Development Council. “They weren’t developed with the trauma of people who live in them in mind.”
Experiencing homelessness is undeniably stressful. The daily struggle to find a place to sleep, food to eat, and to avoid violence and harassment takes a clear toll—a situation that is often made worse if the person lacks a support network of friends or family to help. One Canadian study found that around two-thirds of people experiencing homelessness had suicidal thoughts. While shelters can protect people from cold weather, they can also be dangerous, overrun with roaches and rats, and so noisy at night that it’s hard to sleep.