Design is a discipline of study and practice focused on the interaction between a person — a ‘user’— and the human made environment. It takes into account aesthetic, functional, contextual, cultural and societal considerations. Design is used in this toolkit as a term to describe the process of creating something with intention, considering the primary user or person that is intended to benefit from it.


Healing is both deeply personal and inherently communal. In this toolkit, healing refers to individual and collective experiences of recognizing and restoring after trauma. We understand healing as a process, not just an outcome.


In this toolkit, “housing” refers to the system of housing in the United States that includes people, organizations and institutions that live, work and influence affordable housing properties. This includes residents, staff and executives; owners, investors and property management companies; buildings, properties and the surrounding neighborhood.

Human-Centered Design

Human-centered design is a problem-solving process that priorities the behaviors, needs, and perspectives of the people who are most impacted by problems and solutions. Human-centered design, when applied in housing, values residents' expertise and experiences in the problem-solving process.


Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations. Resilience is a protective factor, helping to reduce risk for developing certain mental health conditions. In this toolkit, “resilience” is used to describe a set of positive skills and environments that promote healing from trauma.


The word “trauma” is used to describe an experience that is physically or emotionally harmful with long lasting adverse effects. This can be from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances. Trauma can impact an individual’s mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing (adapted from SAMHSA)

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is a model developed by health professionals that acknowledges the need to understand a patient’s life experiences in order to deliver effective care. Trauma-informed care has the potential to improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, health outcomes, and provider and staff wellness. While trauma-informed care has roots in healthcare, it has been adapted to education, homelessness and wellness industries, among others. Learn More.

Trauma-Informed Housing

Trauma-Informed Housing refers to the model of trauma-informed care adapted to fit in a housing context. The model is described in this toolkit and was developed by POAH and its partners through the Designing Trauma-Resilient Communities Project, funded by the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge.

Back to top