Poverty, Homelessness & PTSD


Is there a link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and poverty?

The Centric Lab has a mission to create better and healthier habitats for everyone. We cannot do this work without addressing poverty and homelessness. It is our belief that cities cannot be "smart" or civil until we eradicate this man made issue.


“As we are a neuroscience lab, we want to offer a human biological lens to the conversation.

Furthermore we want to begin to provide solutions via the built environment.” 

Project Lead





Poverty and homelessness are culturally perceived through the lenses of economics and governance. However, as neuroscience advances, we are starting to understand there is crucial biological component to poverty. This lens will allow us to understand if the experience of poverty and homelessness is a risk factor for development post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is defined as an anxiety disorder that affects people who have been exposed to trauma, which has both physical and cognitive symptomatology. 

PTSD is a significant disorder to concentrate on within cities due to the acute health consequences, such as obesity, diabetes, panic disorder, and cardiovascular disease. In other words, we could be exposing people to serious long term diseases that develop primarily due to their experience of poverty and homelessness. 

This report will allow practitioners working to eradicate poverty and homelessness to fully understand the human experience behind this phenomena.


In the UK 4.1 million children are living in poverty, putting them at risk for future homelessness. The latest statistics show that approximately 225,000 young people in London have stayed in unsafe places due to not having a place to call home. Furthermore, due to various economic and social factors, there is a growing new demographic of people who are struggling to keep their homes, they are the working poor or the working homeless. Four million people who are employed live in poverty and 55% of families living in temporary accommodation have jobs.

These statics may just be the tip of the iceberg as we begin to consider phenomena like climate change, which has the potential to displace people, cause mass migration, and further deplete financial resources. The World Bank predicts that 20 million people worldwide will be pushed into poverty due to climate change by 2030.

Given these statistics, it is important that we understand the long term biological consequences of poverty. Shedding light to the real human impact of poverty that go beyond economic or political language.


  1. PTSD has now been linked to chronic disease, which is debilitating and costly.

  2. PTSD is an illness onto itself and there should more awareness about its mental and physical consequences. It goes beyond a “feeling” or an inability to cope.

  3. PTSD is a measurable proxy to quantify human suffering associated to poverty.


  1. Black participants reported higher levels of PTSD symptoms and psychosocial vulnerabilities.

  2. Psychosocial vulnerability factors correlated with greater PTSD symptoms in all racial groups.

  3. Urban environments increase the risk of traumatic events having an effect on the psychological and physical health of black women, this can lead to an increased vulnerability to PTSD vs. other ethnicities/races.


An important factor in the discussion of poverty is city infrastructure, from transport, housing, to master planning. Therefore we will include a section of this report to provide insights and mitigations for the built environment industry.


  • Araceli Camargo - Neuroscience

  • Elahi Hossain - Neuroscience

  • Victor Kovalets - Neuroscience (specialism in the field of PTSD), University College London

  • Josh Artus - Built Environment Lead

  • Emma Vilarem - Cognitive Neuroscience researcher and French language translater (S-City)

  • Guillaume Dezecache - Social Cognition researcher and French language translater (S-City)


University College London

University College London

[S]City Paris

[S]City Paris


We are currently looking for additional partners to help disseminate, contribute studies, or provide industry support. 

Josh ArtusAnnouncement