NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 4, 2020
SAN DIEGO – Today, Attorney General William P. Barr and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump announced that the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), has awarded $35,104,338 in grant funding to provide safe, stable housing and appropriate services to victims of human trafficking. U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer revealed that San Diego’s North County Lifeline, Inc. was selected as one of 73 grant awardees in 34 states. The organization will receive $500,000 in grant funds to 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 grants will also provide funding for support needed to help victims locate permanent housing, secure employment, as well as occupational training and counseling. This is the largest federal investment of its kind.
“Eradicating the horrific crime of human trafficking and helping its victims are top priorities for the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We are working relentlessly to bring human traffickers to justice and to deliver critical aid to trafficking survivors, who often have nowhere to go once they are freed from trafficking. We cannot allow the trauma of trafficking to give way to new dangers caused by homelessness, which often leads to re-victimization by predators. These funds will provide San Diego victims the shelter and support they need to turn the corner and begin a new life.”
North County Lifeline, Inc., a 24 hour on-call victim services organization, works in collaboration with San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force to ensure that every victim of human trafficking is provided with individualized resources and services. Lifeline’s transitional housing program utilizes a Housing First model, which ensures that factors that often preclude trafficking victims from qualifying for long-term housing programs (substance use/abuse, untreated mental health issues, prior criminal record) are not an issue. According to the DOJ award, this type of unrestricted housing for trafficking victims, in addition to being in short supply in San Diego, is considered most conducive to providing trafficking victims with the safety and stability they need to shift out of a crisis mindset and begin working toward self-sufficiency. Lifeline plans to serve approximately 75 trafficking victims over the project period. In addition to housing, clients may elect to participate in supportive services including, but not limited to, ongoing case management, medical and dental care, (limited) legal assistance, literacy/GED/education assistance, LGBTQ services, substance abuse treatment, trauma counseling, life skills training, and employment and financial coaching.
The grant funds announced today will support multiple forms of short-term housing assistance, including helping survivors make rent payments, cover utility bills or security deposits, or pay moving expenses. The grants are the first-ever federal program dedicated exclusively to providing housing for survivors of human trafficking. It represents part of approximately 100 million dollars in total grants that the Department of Justice anticipates awarding this year to combat human trafficking.
“In addition to the considerable financial support announced today, the Department of Justice and this office will continue to use the full force of our law enforcement resources to investigate, prosecute, and punish the people behind the cruel crime of human trafficking,” Brewer added.