Sens. Brown, Blunt, Durbin and Reps. Beatty, Wagner Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Housing Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking



 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), as well as U.S. Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), introduced legislation that would commission a study reviewing current homelessness and housing services for survivors of trafficking. The bill was previously introduced in 2019 and 2018.

“To fight back against human trafficking, we have to address the affordable housing crisis,” said Brown. “This bill will focus on improving housing and homeless services for trafficking survivors to help them rebuild their lives – as well as confront the housing issues that make people vulnerable to this heinous crime in the first place. We must do more to ensure survivors – young people in foster care, families of child victims, and individuals at risk of trafficking – have access to safe housing that meets their needs. I look forward to working with Senators Blunt and Durbin and Representatives Joyce Beatty and Ann Wagner to pass this bipartisan bill.”

“We can help survivors of human trafficking rebuild their lives by making sure they have access to safe, affordable housing,” said Blunt. “This bill will help us find solutions on how we can improve housing services and reduce homelessness, which will help protect survivors and address a root cause of this inexcusable crime. All of our colleagues should support this bipartisan, bicameral bill that will help ensure trafficking survivors have access to affordable housing and the safe, stable foundation it provides.”

“In addressing the human trafficking crisis, we must ensure that survivors have adequate support to rebuild their lives. A safe, stable home is fundamental to recovery,” said Durbin. “I’m committed to supporting the survivors of this global scourge, and with this, we can collect the necessary data to create a survivor-centered approach that will offer the necessary resources, including housing, to help people move forward and prevent vulnerable populations from falling victim to trafficking.”

“Every year, the State Department estimates that nearly 25 million people are victims of human trafficking, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. This harmful practice must be stopped, so I am joining forces with Senator Brown, Congresswoman Wagner, and fellow congressional colleagues to stand up for victims. I call on all Senators and Members of Congress to do the same. Support the Trafficking Survivors Housing Act—because one victim is one too many,” said Beatty.

“Victims of human trafficking often have unstable housing situations and can be at risk of homelessness.  This legislation will support survivors at an incredibly vulnerable time in their lives and help ensure they have appropriate and safe housing during their recovery. We have a responsibility to help those in need, especially trafficking survivors who are looking to rebuild their lives and find justice,” said Wagner.

“We’re glad to see Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Joyce Beatty leading on this issue once again, especially since Ohio ranks among the 10 worst states for human trafficking. This bill focuses on a critical vulnerability. The lack of a safe, affordable place to live is a big reason why so many young people and immigrants fall victim to sex and labor traffickers and have great difficulty escaping from it. Housing, with supportive services, is key for getting survivors to safety and protecting potential victims from these heinous crimes. It is past time for the federal government to develop a multi-agency coordinated approach to addressing this exploitation,” said Bill Faith, Executive Director, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO).

“The vulnerability caused by homelessness, or the risk of it, is too often a factor in human trafficking.  Stable housing is needed to protect people from trafficking, and to help them recover from it.  This important bill would examine what different federal agencies can and should do to eliminate the link between homelessness and trafficking,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness.

“Shared Hope International supports the Trafficking Survivors Housing Act and thanks Senator Brown, Senator Blunt and Senator Durbin, along with Congresswoman Beatty and Congresswoman Wagner, for introducing this critical legislation. Access to safe and supportive housing for trafficking survivors is essential to breaking the cycle of vulnerability and exploitation that survivors so often experience. And yet, service providers and survivors themselves report that the lack of safe and stable housing for those who have experienced trafficking is becoming a crisis in many areas of the country. Additionally, housing can be a lifeline to vulnerable individuals who are at risk of trafficking, potentially preventing victimization from occurring. By directing a study of housing availability, accessibility and appropriateness, this bill will help identify the barriers that must be addressed to meet the housing needs of trafficking survivors and those at risk of trafficking,” said Linda Smith (U.S. Congress 1994-98), President and Founder, Shared Hope International.

The bill text is available here. A one-pager on the bill is available here.

Background

There is a severe shortage of affordable housing nationally, and due to funding limitations, federal rental assistance reaches just one-in-four eligible households. The U.S. Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking reported that “sustainable housing is a significant issue in achieving long-term recovery and self-sufficiency for human trafficking survivors.”

The Trafficking Survivors Housing Act of 2021 would require the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to commission a study and report in partnership with federal agencies, survivors, and the organizations that serve them on the availability and accessibility of homelessness and housing services for survivors of trafficking. The study would:

  • review the effectiveness of current policy and procedures and report on the impact of such policies on the ability to provide sustainable, affordable, and safe housing options for survivors of trafficking, including families of minor victims and youth in foster care;
  • build on trauma-informed and evidence-based frameworks to assess the capacity of mainstream housing services to meet the distinct and specialized needs of both labor and sex trafficking survivors, including survivors disability-related needs; and
  • identify barriers to and best practices for meeting the housing and service needs of survivors of trafficking.

Supporting organizations and stakeholders include:

180 Demo

Advocating Opportunity

Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Child Welfare League of America

Children’s Lantern

CleanTurn Cleaning Service

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CAT-W)

Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)

Covenant House

Family Promise Delaware Ohio

Franciscan Action Network

Great Lakes Community Action Partnership

Human Service Chamber of Franklin County

Kaleidoscope Youth Center

Love146

Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition

Lucas County Metropolitan Housing

National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Association of Evangelicals

National Crittenton

National Housing Law Project

National Low Income Housing Coalition

North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking

Oasis House

Polaris

Rights4Girls

Shared Hope International

She Has A Name

State Representative Michael Sheehy (D-46)

State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-11)

StreetGrace

The Cocoon – Domestic Violence shelter in Wood County

The Recovery Council

The Salvation Army USA

Thirdway Café

Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board

Trafficking in America Task Force

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