New housing project offers trafficking survivors "hope" to rebuild their lives

New housing project offers trafficking survivors \"hope\" to rebuild their lives (10 WBNS screenshot)

New supportive housing for survivors of human trafficking opened late this past year in the Columbus, Ohio, area. 

Harriet’s Hope has 52 apartments that will provide a home for dozens of human trafficking survivors. 

Awareness of human trafficking has continued to rise, and pregnancy help organizations, finding themselves on the frontlines as traffickers often bring their victims to them for services, have responded as necessary to this offense against human rights. 

Harriet’s Hope is named for American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who helped countless people escape slavery via the Underground Railroad. The name was the idea of Celia Kendall, CEO of Beacon 360 Management, one of the partners in the project, which includes public, private, and non-profit entities.

“My last data shows us that Columbus is number five in the nation for human trafficking incidents,” Kendall said. “This is just not something that we can afford to ignore.”

Resources available for residents include medical care, mental health counseling, drug recovery, job training, and more. The exact location remains undisclosed to protect those who live there.

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CVS Health Corporation invested $10.6 million of the project's $15.6 million cost, WBNS 10TV reports

Providing stable housing for trafficked victims is a crucial element for them to be able to go somewhere safe instead of remaining dependent on their traffickers for basic needs like shelter. The need for stable housing is especially crucial in the state of Ohio, which is ranked fifth in the U.S. for human trafficking, according to both the WBNS report and (Human Trafficking Courts).

Human trafficking survivors were involved in the design of the Harriet’s Hope community housing, the first of its kind in Columbus, everything from the color scheme to the cabinetry and flooring. This helped give survivors a voice in the project.

"We know that the first step in improving people's health and well-being is to allow them to have access to quality safe and affordable housing,” CVS Health Anti-Human Trafficking Administrator Latasha Brown stated.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost commented similarly.

“Very frequently you don’t have any place to live because your trafficker has made sure that you’re dependent for food, shelter, just to get out of the cold,” he said.

"For our survivors, having the opportunity to rebuild their lives, that's something much more than merely exiting the life," Yost said.

“It’s important to highlight the uniqueness of this type of development,” Kendall said. “We’ll be providing a holistic and trauma-informed approach to service delivery, including on-site behavioral, mental, and physical health services in partnership with local providers and peer support groups, to encourage rehabilitation and self-sufficiency.”

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The list of support partners includes Alvis, Freedom a la Cart, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Columbus Works, Fit to Navigate, and Integrated Services for Behavioral Health. 

The Salvation Army of Central Ohio will be the lead supportive service partner for Harriett’s Hope, performing intake and case management for Harriet’s Hope. The organization helped 850 human trafficking survivors over the 12-month period that ended in September of last year.

Contact information for the Salvation Army Central Ohio Area for referrals is available HERE.

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