Congressional Coalition Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Housing Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), joined by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), and Dick Durbin (IL), as well as U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-02), introduced the Trafficking Survivors Housing Act of 2021.
“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,” Beatty said. “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.”
“To fight back against human trafficking, we have to address the affordable housing crisis,” Brown added. “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,” Blunt said. “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,” Durbin noted. “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.”
“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,” Wagner explained.
“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,” Bill Faith, Executive Director, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), said.
“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,” Nan Roman, President and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness, mentioned.
“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,” Linda Smith (U.S. Congress 1994-98), President and Founder, Shared Hope International, shared.
Currently, there is a severe shortage of affordable housing nationally and, due to funding limitations, federal rental assistance reaches just 25 percent of eligible households. In fact, 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.”
If enacted, the Trafficking Survivors Housing Act 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 specifically:
- review the effectiveness of current policy and procedures and report on their impact around 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 with disability-related needs; and
- identify barriers to and best practices for meeting the housing and service needs of survivors of trafficking.