DOJ Awards $500,000 to OKC: Housing for Human Trafficking Victims

Mike Seals - August 4, 2020 10:43 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, the Department of Justice announced that the City of Oklahoma City received $500,000 from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs and its component, the Office for Victims of Crime, to provide safe, stable housing and appropriate services to victims of human trafficking.

“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. “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.”

“Human trafficking is one of the most abhorrent crimes ever contemplated by mankind,”  said U.S. Attorney Downing.  “The funds provided by the Department to the City of Oklahoma City will serve as a force multiplier to assist human trafficking efforts in the Western District of Oklahoma, and it will hopefully provide some comfort and solace to its victims.”

The grant, awarded to the City of Oklahoma City, 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. The City of Oklahoma City is among 73 organizations receiving more than $35 million in OVC 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 Katherine 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. 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.

For a complete list of individual award amounts and jurisdictions that will receive funding, visit: https://www.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh241/files/media/document/htvictimsfactheet.pdf.  For the national Department of Justice press release, visit: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-awards-over-35-million-provide-housing-victims-human-trafficking.

The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

 

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