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Preservation of Affordable Housing’s innovation draws on new insights into how trauma impacts the body and brain to create communities where economic mobility is the long-term goal and residents and staff can truly thrive.

Innovation Milestones

With support from the Breakthrough Challenge, Preservation of Affordable Housing engaged four teams of residents and frontline staff across diverse communities to co-design its Trauma-Informed Housing innovation using trauma-informed approaches to building design, resident services, property management, and human resources.

Teams drew on community-based research, collective brainstorming and creative prototyping to test new ideas for community change that address root causes, not surface symptoms.

Through collaborative co-design, Trauma-Informed Housing gives residents and frontline staff opportunities to reshape their communities to promote well-being and equity for everyone.

POAH’s partners on the innovation included Design Impact, MASS Design Group, Center for Trauma-Informed Innovation, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, and Community Services League.

POAH’s learning is packaged into a playbook for other owners to adopt and adapt in their work.

A woman standing outside in front of a building
Trauma-informed design is not ‘meet us where we’re at, we’re trying to help you.’ It’s, ‘What do you need to be able to live somewhere consistently and stably?’
Marissa Rogers, former resident, Flat 9 at Whittier, Boston, who helped co-design the Trauma-Informed Housing innovation

What’s Next

The Breakthrough Challenge allowed POAH to pilot initiatives such as a move-in experience designed for and by residents and peer-to-peer wellness programs, reconfigured office and community spaces, and more.

As they enter the next phase of this work, POAH is changing its own management policies, reimagining building interiors, and teaching more of its staff about trauma-informed approaches to supervision, customer service, and real estate development.

For POAH, the work has just begun.