Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health
Shape the Future of Trauma Informed Shelters in the 2015 Design Challenge!

Design Challenge

Submission Deadline:

The deadline for submissions has been extended to January 30, 2015 at 11:59pm. 

2015 Design Challenge: 

Research has shown that approximately 92 percent of women in family homeless shelters have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Homeless shelters often lack the capacity to help their guests deal with that trauma. Create a low-cost, high-impact product that promotes resilience in a shelter environment.   



Implementation Site: The winning design will be implemented at Jane Addams Place, a shelter in West Philadelphia that creates a safe place for mothers and children after becoming homeless. In 2008, Jane Addams Place became the first shelter in Philadelphia to implement the Sanctuary Model®, which is a trauma-informed approach to creating community and healing for survivors of traumatic events. The winning product will work within a trauma-informed framework to improve the lives of shelter guests by promoting health and wellness through resilience, safety and security. 

Focus of the Design Challenge: Trauma is biological reaction that occurs when a person’s internal and external resources are inadequate to cope with an external threat. High levels of trauma can lead to a number of negative outcomes and unhealthy behaviors including but not limited to chronic depression and other mental health issues, abnormal brain development, underemployment, alcohol and substance abuse – the list goes on and on. 

Further, research has shown that trauma can be both a cause and effect of homelessness – an experience which can re-traumatize individuals as they are faced with the daily realities of physical insecurity and violence, isolation, toxic stress, and inhumane treatment. Such an environment can cause one to alter their coping mechanisms in a way that is detrimental to their ability to access supportive care, thus creating an unpredictable atmosphere at service and shelter sites.

In order to prevent re-traumatization for individuals experiencing homelessness, the Scattergood Foundation Design Challenge seeks to develop low-cost, high-impact products and tools that can be tailored for use in homeless shelters. 

Drexel University Masters of Public Health Candidates: Shoshana Akins and  Caitlin O'Brien 

Faculty Advisor: John Rich, MDHealth Management and Policy; Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice