Three Western Washington nonprofit groups will receive about $500,000 each from the U.S. Department of Justice to help provide safe, stable housing and appropriate services to victims of human trafficking.
“The Western District of Washington is a leader in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking, due to key partnerships between federal, state and local law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran in a U.S. Department of Justice Aug. 4 news release. “Our relationships with nonprofit organizations who provide support to human trafficking victims is key to rescuing victims from this modern day slavery.”
The grants were awarded to YouthCare, The YMCA of Greater Seattle and the International Rescue Committee, Inc. The groups will provide six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance for trafficking victims, including rental, utilities, or related expenses, such as security deposits and relocation costs. The grant will also provide funding for support needed to help victims locate permanent housing, secure employment, as well as occupational training and counseling.
“Human trafficking is a barbaric criminal enterprise that subjects its victims to unspeakable cruelty and deprives them of the most basic of human needs, none more essential than a safe place to live,” said Attorney General William P. Barr in the news release. “Throughout this administration, the Department of Justice has fought aggressively to bring human traffickers to justice and to deliver critical aid to trafficking survivors. These new resources, announced today, expand on our efforts to offer those who have suffered the shelter and support they need to begin a new and better life.”
The funds are from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs and its component, the Office for Victims of Crime. The three nonprofits are among 73 organizations nationwide receiving more than $35 million in grants to support housing services for human trafficking survivors.
“Human traffickers dangle the threat of homelessness over those they have entrapped, playing a ruthless game of psychological manipulation that victims are never in a position to win,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kathrine T. Sullivan. “These grants will empower survivors on their path to independence and a life of self-sufficiency and hope.”
Human trafficking offenses are among the most difficult crimes to identify, and the scope of human trafficking victimization may be much greater than the limited data reflect, according to the news release. A new report issued by the National Institute of Justice, another component of the Office of Justice Programs, found that the number of human trafficking cases captured in police reports may represent only a fraction of all such cases. Expanding housing and other services to trafficking victims remains a top Justice Department priority.
The Office for Victims of Crime, for example, hosted listening sessions and roundtable discussions with stakeholders in the field in 2018 and launched the Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center. From July 2018 through June 2019, 118 OVC human trafficking grantees reported serving 8,375 total clients, including confirmed trafficking victims and individuals showing strong indicators of trafficking victimization.