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What is Human Trafficking?At its essence, human trafficking exploits a person through force, fraud, or coercion for forced labor or commercial sex. Traffickers prey on the vulnerabilities of individuals in poverty, experiencing homelessness, or who are part of marginalized populations. Communities that are poor, disenfranchised, and underserved are often the most vulnerable. Trafficking victims are generally left financially destitute, which in turn makes them susceptible to re-exploitation. Individuals who lack safe housing are more likely to engage in dangerous employment to meet their needs, making them vulnerable to trafficking. A 2016 study by Loyola University and Covenant House found that nearly 1 in 5 youth who received shelter services from Covenant House had experienced some form of human trafficking.
|In the US, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) has defined trafficking as ● sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or ● the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.|
Human Trafficking in the USTrafficking happens in every state and can occur in any industry such as education, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, restaurants, among others. We also know that labor trafficking is the most common type of trafficking worldwide. Because human trafficking is underreported and under-identified, there is no clear figure as to how many people are trafficked in the US. Not all victims of trafficking have been able to access services or have reported their experience, therefore statistics can be unreliable. One way to get a sense of the magnitude of human trafficking in the US is through the number of survivors receiving federally funded services. Grantees of the Department of Justice reported serving 8,913 clients between July 2017 and June 2018. 
Survivors Need Access to HousingSafe and stable housing is a critical resource for survivors of human trafficking as they exit their trafficking situation and continue their journey towards healing. Anti-trafficking service providers often rely on emergency housing resources such as homeless or domestic violence shelters to meet the immediate needs of survivors. However, these short-term options can leave survivors homeless once their stay has ended.
Safe Housing options allow individuals to concentrate on their psychological needs, including any effects of complex trauma that they experience. When a survivor’s basic needs (including safe and affordable housing) are not met they must concentrate on basic survival. This creates an environment that makes them more vulnerable to new exploitative situations. – International Institute of St. Louis, MissouriProviders in the housing and homelessness field are likely already serving survivors of trafficking without knowing it. Not all survivors will disclose their trafficking experience and some may not be aware that their exploitation is considered trafficking. Housing programs have the opportunity to ensure that their services are trauma-informed and person-centered. By creating systems that focus on providing the individual choice and voice in their housing, we can ensure that all clients, including those who have experienced violence and exploitation, can access housing options that feel safe for them. As providers, we have an opportunity to expand current referral systems and build connections between housing and homeless services and the anti-trafficking field. If you want to learn more, please visit Freedom Network USA’s Housing Project and the Resource Library, which contain materials including fact sheets, videos, and templates for providers to access practical tools and respond to the individual needs of survivors in a person-centered, trauma-informed manner. To learn more about this project, visit freedomnetworkusa.com/housing. For inquiries, contact Karen Romero at [email protected]. Notes  Covenant House https://www.covenanthouse.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/Loyola%20Multi-City%20Executive%20Summary%20FINAL.pdf  US State Department https://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/61124.htm  International Labour Organization, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575540.pdf  US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2019, page 486  Freedom Network USA 2018 Member Report https://freedomnetworkusa.org/app/uploads/2018/04/FRN-Member-Report-Digital-FINAL.pdf The post The Intersection of Human Trafficking and Homelessness appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading
A Renewed FocusThe report was released at a time when homelessness and affordable housing are increasingly in the public consciousness, and tensions run high about the causes and solutions. For the first time ever, most candidates in the 2020 presidential campaign have elevated the nation’s affordable housing shortage as a priority domestic issue. At the same time, several of the West Coast’s largest technology companies have made major monetary commitments to address an affordable housing shortage for which they are often blamed. Meanwhile, numerous communities attempted to pass harmful ordinances that would criminalize people for not being housed. These efforts were set back in December, when the Supreme Court declined to hear Martin v. Boise, a 9th Circuit Court case that had ruled that a city could not make it illegal for people to sleep outside if it had not made a sufficient number of shelter beds available. “Any increase in homelessness is bad news. But we must be clear about the causes and solutions,” Roman said. “This isn’t the fault of the homelessness sector, and it is not the fault of people experiencing homelessness. It is the fault of systems that have failed our most vulnerable populations, and leaders who have failed to protect them. Our charge for 2020 is to remain committed to the best practices in ending homelessness, and to remain resolved to addressing the systems that cause people to become homeless.” The post New Homelessness Numbers Reflect Uneven Progress, Increased Urgency appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading
Potential Federal ResourcesThe Eviction Crisis Act (S. 3030), which was introduced in December, would establish an emergency assistance fund at the federal level to provide short-term financial assistance and housing services to renters in danger of eviction. The bill is bipartisan, introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and has attracted three cosponsors, including Senators Todd Young (R-IN) as well as Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who is the ranking member on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee. Efforts are underway to identify sponsors for comparable legislation in the House. Under Section 8 of S. 3030, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would award grants to state, local, and Tribal governments to establish “crisis assistance programs” to help extremely low-income households avoid housing instability and homelessness; and those governments may in turn designate entities to carry out the programs. An eligible household may not receive assistance for more than one 90-day period during each calendar year. No less than 75% of the amount received by a grantee may be used on financial assistance, and no more than 25% of that amount could be used on housing stability-related services, as the bill is written. Section 8 also includes a list of factors for the Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture to consider in the establishment of criteria for awarding grants. Geographic diversity must be considered in awarding grants. Given the finite resources and the immense scope of the housing crisis, the legislation includes a comprehensive evaluation process to help policymakers identify the best methods for ensuring that assistance goes to those extremely low-income households who need help the most and have no other recourse. It would be up to the appropriators, pursuant to the annual Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill, to determine levels of funding for the federal emergency assistance programs that would be established under S. 3030. Obviously, it is imperative that money not be diverted from the Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs to pay for the emergency assistance programs. (Of note, ESG funds can already be used for homelessness prevention, but are more commonly allocated to shelter and re-housing efforts.)
Building SupportIn order to induce the Senate Banking Committee’s consideration on this legislation, it will be necessary to build support for S. 3030, ideally through cosponsorships of the legislation by committee Republicans. Most Congressional offices are unaware of the homelessness prevention efforts helping their constituents back home, and would greatly benefit hearing from providers in their districts: the most qualified people to make this case. S. 3030 also includes valuable provisions that would strengthen tenant protections. These include language to:
- fund efforts by state and local governments to use landlord-tenant courts, particularly if tenants are actually represented, and
- establish a database to track evictions in order to develop more informed housing policies.
A Shared PriorityThe establishment of emergency assistance grant programs is a key objective of the Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) coalition, a long-term, multi-sector campaign to meet the rental housing needs of low-income Americans. Providing housing assistance doesn’t just end homelessness, but bolsters quality of life in other areas – such as civil rights, health care and education. – and is supported by many members of Opportunity Starts at Home. The collective commitment to this objective is a strong endorsement that prevention resources must be a priority in the federal government’s response to homelessness. The post Establishing a Federal Fund for Homelessness Prevention appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading
811 Mainstream Vouchers: What They Are, and How to Use ThemThe U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded more than $130 million in housing vouchers for public housing authorities (PHAs) to expand housing capacity for the most vulnerable in their communities. This is great news for more than 300 awardee PHAs. HUD’s Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher program (also referred to as “811 Mainstream Vouchers”) provides critical funding to ensure that non-elderly people with disabilities experiencing homelessness can access housing.
Now the Work BeginsMany PHAs and Continuums of Care (CoCs) worked hard together to forge the partnerships needed for a successful application. But that’s just the first step. Now, the hard work really begins: getting people experiencing homelessness into units. CoCs and PHAs have to extend their partnerships all the way through lease-up. As CoCs begin the housing process, they should emphasize their vantage points as partners:
- CoCs have relationships with the target population
- CoCs have experience implementing tenant based rental assistance programs
- CoCs have coordinated entry to identify applicants
Continuing the PartnershipWorking across systems can be challenging, but CoCs have the expertise required to assist PHAs house chronically homeless people. Just as CoCs and PHAs worked together to complete the application for the 811 Mainstream Housing Vouchers, we now have to effectively partner up to reach the ultimate goal: to get people with disabilities into affordable units. The post Housing Chronically Homeless People: Opportunities through the 811 Mainstream Vouchers appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading
A Community ApproachDeveloping positive partnerships, not punitive ones, will be essential in ending homelessness; the entire community working together is a key ingredient to success. Criminalization, however, creates more conflict between local officials, the police, and homeless people. At worst, criminalization gives local politicians a way to try to dodge responsibility for homelessness by turning it over to the police. The police, who don’t have tools to solve the problem, often end up shuffling homeless people from place to place: at great expense to local taxpayers, while causing even more trauma to people experiencing homelessness. Criminalization is not a homelessness strategy; it is a consequence of not having a strategy. It is a last-resort effort when local governments don’t know what else to do when it comes to homelessness response.
What the Supreme Court Decision MeansIf the Supreme Court decides to take this case, it will have implications on how people experiencing homelessness are treated by law enforcement, government officials, and communities nationwide. The issue was already taken up in in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which ruled that sleeping outside should not be a criminal offense if people have no other options. The brief for the respondents (a group of homeless and formerly homeless people in Boise), asking the Supreme Court to decline the case, was filed on Friday, October 25. The respondents pointed out that the lower court’s decision was narrowly limited to a specific set of facts, unlikely to create terrible impacts if all cities have to follow it. It is consistent with good policy and with other court decisions, so there is no good reason to take up the case. Given that there is no deadline for the Supreme Court to take up the case, it may be a while before we see a preliminary decision on whether or not the case will be taken – which can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If the Supreme Court declines, the ruling of the 9th Circuit will stand: sleeping outside when there is no place inside to sleep should not be a criminal offense. If it takes the case, there will be further briefs filed, arguments by lawyers, and finally a decision that will probably be announced early in 2021. In the meantime, communities can work with homeless people to brainstorm solutions that work for everyone. There has obviously been a lot of concern expressed in communities with more people sleeping outside. People who are just now seeing the magnitude of the problem are calling for elected officials to “do something, anything.” The thing that actually works, though, is getting housing for people, which is no easy goal. Rising concern about unsheltered homelessness is a good thing; people should be concerned, outraged, and intolerant of excuses. The response should be to solve the problem – not to criminalize it. To learn more about this case and the decisions that led up to it, click here for previous analysis. The post When Sleeping Outside is Breaking the Law appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading
The number of homeless residents dying in Los Angeles County doubled from 2013 to 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by county public health officials.
The number of deaths soared from 536 to 1,047. The death rate, which accounts for increases in the homeless population, also increased in that time period—by more than one-third, the report found.
“Homeless people are in fact dying at a higher rate because they’re homeless,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, referring to a lack of access to health services in the homeless population.
The leading cause of the increasing mortality rate? Drug and alcohol overdoses. Other main causes cited in the report include: Heart disease, transportation-related injuries (primarily among pedestrians and cyclists), and homicides, among others.
The report was presented Tuesday to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which had directed the health department to look into the coroner’s data related to homeless deaths. The results are sobering.
“We’re seeing two or three people every day coming through our office,” Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas told the board.
The report is the first “comprehensive analysis” of deaths among people experiencing homelessness in the county.
“A principal finding is that the overall homeless mortality rate has steadily increased over the past six years,” the report says. “Put simply, being homeless in LA County is becoming increasingly deadly.”
The health department’s analysis found that homeless people died on average 22 years earlier than the general population. The average death age for homeless people was 51, compared to 73 for the general population.
The research also looks at the mortality rate among homeless people by race. From 2016 to 2018, white homeless people had the highest rate of deaths. But those rates decreased over the last two years, while the death rate among black and Latino homeless populations surged.
“This may have something to do with who’s getting placed in housing,” says Ferrer. “Our recommendation is going to be to look at how people are getting placed in housing and make sure those opportunities are open to everyone.”
The report also recommends that supervisors establish a “homeless death review team” to better understand the contributing factors of homeless deaths—and to prevent them in the future.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said Tuesday that the study is a “call for everybody to get engaged.” She specifically called out the business sector because many homeless residents reside on sidewalks in front of businesses.
“It isn’t just the county’s responsibility,” Solis said. “It’s a human responsibility,”Continue Reading
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve up to $24.3 million in funding to repurpose a building on the Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles for housing for veterans.
That represents about 70 percent of the cost for the project, called Building 207, which will create 59 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and chronically homeless senior veterans. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2020, and wrap up by the end of 2021.
Reusing this existing building has been framed as the first piece of a much bigger puzzle at the VA property.
Last year a partnership among Century Housing Corporation, U.S. Vets, and Thomas Safran and Associates was selected to redevelop the 400-acre campus along Wilshire Boulevard with housing for veterans.
The rest of the work is expected to roll out in phases. Right now, the developers are still doing community outreach for the next phases.
The Building 207 project has also received $8.2 million from Measure HHH funds, which go toward building permanent supportive housing for the homeless, and $5.75 million from the county, according to West LA Veterans Collective. It has also been designed to hold community space, a library, a gym, case management offices and landscaped outdoor areas.
The plan to retool the campus emerged after the Department of Veteran’s Affairs settled a lawsuit in 2015 brought by a group of disabled veterans who claimed it was misusing the campus. The veterans cited the long-time practice of leasing large segments of the property for commercial use instead of for housing or services for veterans.Continue Reading
The last remaining Measure HHH money is tapped.
City leaders signed off today on funding commitments totaling up to $358.1 million for 2,998 units of affordable and homeless housing planned across Los Angeles, from the San Fernando Valley to South LA.
“Today’s City Council approval of funding for a new round of Proposition HHH projects is a big step in the right direction—because it means we have quality, lasting supportive housing in the pipeline for every council district. That was the promise we made to voters,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “I am more determined than ever to get them built as quickly as possible.”
So far, the housing has not built fast enough.
Voters in the city of Los Angeles passed Measure HHH—a $1.2 billion bond to subsidize the development of 10,000 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing—three years ago. Only 1,260 units are under construction. Zero units are open.
That’s according to an audit of HHH spending released last week by the city controller, who blamed a number of factors on the slow build-out, including high construction costs and “a lengthy approval process mired in red tape.”
Meanwhile, the homeless population in the city of Los Angeles has ballooned, spiking 16 percent since last year, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The total number of HHH-funded units in the pipeline now stands at 8,625. Of those, 6,858 are supportive units, meaning they’ll come with on-site services, which can include treatment for substance abuse and mental health and life skills development and job training.
The funding commitments approved include $120 million for winners of the city’s “Housing Innovation Challenge,” a competition that challenged developers to come up with “unique” and “alternative” ways to build affordable housing more cheaply and quickly.
They also include the first Measure HHH project in the 12th council district, where developer Affirmed Housing Group, Inc. has plans for 64 apartments with on-site services for formerly homeless residents on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth. That project is estimated to cost $28.6 million, with $8.3 million coming from Measure HHH.
The plans have drawn protests from some residents, citing concerns about impacts on property values and crime, the Los Angeles Daily News has reported. In a letter to the City Council, opponents said the project would be too big and too close to Chatsworth Park Elementary School.
But the project has supporters too.
Marsha Novak, of the San Fernando Valley-based Interfaith Solidarity Network, told the City Council that opposition to the project is “full of prejudice and myths.” It would be an “embarrassment,” she said, for the 12th district to be the only council district without an HHH project.
In a letter to the council, Chatsworth resident Pilar Schiavo said it’s time that the 12th district “step up to be part of the solution to the [homeless] crisis and also get the tax dollars we approved to create resources for our community.”
The largest projects in this third and final round of HHH funding are planned in the eighth and 11th districts, with 98 units each. In Hyde Park, a mixed-use supportive housing complex for homeless residents would be made out of modular shipping containers. In Venice, apartments for homeless residents would rise on a former city maintenance yard.
The council, however, decided to delay consideration for $15.3 million in HHH funding for two projects in the eighth district, because City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson has said he needs more time to solicit community input on those developments.
The developers of all of the Measure HHH-funded projects are piecing together financing from multiple sources, as the bond dollars are not enough to pay for entire projects.
When the City Council’s homelessness and poverty committee reviewed the full spending plan last month, city officials said it would drain the last remaining Measure HHH money.
On Tuesday, the committee’s chair told the council that he was optimistic that the city would find new funding sources to help developers erect affordable housing and house people “more quickly and more cheaply.”
“I think we’re going to see a lot of successful examples moving forward beyond HHH,” Committee Chair and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said.Continue Reading
A new bridge housing facility that will provide wraparound services to 40 young women and their children opened today in a century-old pink mansion in Hollywood.
Known today as the Wallis House, the Italianate-style former residence facing Hollywood Boulevard will be managed by Aviva Family and Children’s Services, which has provided services and housing for foster youth in the neighborhood for over 100 years.
In its new role, Wallis House will serve women between the ages of 18 and 24, including mothers with young children, who are transitioning out of homelessness. Fifteen families moved in today, with a goal of serving up to 40 families at the 42-bed facility.
“Young single mothers face high barriers to making ends meet, and are at a far greater risk of harm when living on the street,” Councilmember David Ryu said in a statement. “We need housing and services that meet their specific needs.”
We're opening the Wallis House, a new #ABridgeHome shelter in Hollywood. This shelter includes more than 40 beds for young women and their children who are transitioning out of homelessness and will now begin their new journey full of hope and healing. pic.twitter.com/ldyvchPo1Y— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) October 15, 2019
Aviva has housed foster girls at Wallis House for 63 years. Earlier this year, the property was redesigned using $2.36 million of Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) funds to create facilities for families, including a gym and play area, as well as a boutique and salon where residents can take classes in cosmetology and sewing.
Unlike some of the other Bridge Home projects which are located in temporary structures, Wallis House is being called a “permanent” bridge housing facility, meaning that residents will live there for a maximum of two years before being moved into permanent housing.
According to Aviva, the Hollywood area is home to the greatest number of homeless residents aged 18 to 24 in the county, many of them former foster youth who have aged out of the system.
The facility is a few blocks north of the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, which opened last month in a midcentury building that was formerly used as a library.Continue Reading
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Saying it’s time to “put politics aside”, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hosted a delegation of Trump Administration representatives Tuesday as part of an effort to address what he called a homeless “humanitarian crisis”.
As part of the meeting, the mayor accompanied the unidentified delegates on a tour of the city’s Unified Homelessness Response Center, a pair of homeless shelters and the Jordan Downs public housing complex, officials said.
Garcetti then released a public letter to President Trump in which the mayor appeared to strike a cooperative tone, describing homelessness as “a problem that predates your administration and mine.”
“We must put politics aside when it comes to responding to this heartbreaking humanitarian crisis,” Garcetti wrote. “I hope you will provide
the federal assistance that is needed to help cities stop homelessness in America and help our veterans and most vulnerable of citizens. This is our watch. This is our time. This must be done. I look forward to working with you and your administration on this issue.”
“Any day that our nation’s federal leaders are willing to listen to Americans living in our 19,000 local communities across this country about the
challenges that they face is a good day,” he added.
The delegation’s visit comes just months after a Fox News segment in which Trump blamed the homeless crisis on “liberal” Los Angeles and California political leaders were to blame for homelessness and that he may “intercede” to “get that whole thing cleaned up.”
This comes on the heels of a Washington Post report indicating President Trump has ordered a “sweeping crackdown” on homelessness statewide, including discussions on federal involvement “to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other areas and into new government-backed facilities”, officials told the Post.
Among the proposed plans is an effort to raze existing homeless camps in the city and move people into government-backed facilities, according to the Post.
“There are things the federal government could do,” says Jack Pitney, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, “It could increase housing opportunities. It could increase the availability of group homes for people with mental disabilities. There’s lots of real things the federal government could do but it’s not entirely clear President Trump in interested in doing any of them.”
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, chair of the city’s homeless and poverty committee, reacted to the report by calling the president’s agenda “concerning”.
“It sounds an awful lot like internment and this administration does not have a good track record,” O’Farrell said, alluding to what he called the government’s policy of putting “children in cages” in U.S. immigration detention centers.
Mario Guerra, Budget Chairman for the California Republican Party, welcomes Trump’s involvement: “If this is a political thing, who cares? We need solutions. We need to fix our problem. The California Legislature has let this problem go.”
In July, Garcetti told CBSLA he would “welcome [Trump’s] involvement” in the issue and “would be more than happy” to invite the president himself to walk the streets of L.A.