Louisville providing free training to help identify and prevent human trafficking  

September 22, 2022

Community advocates call for more affordable housing to prevent victimization and support survivors

 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2022) – Louisville is inviting professionals and community leaders, including those working in violence prevention, housing, youth services, social services, healthcare, education and law enforcement, to attend a two-part training series to combat human trafficking and better support survivors.  

 The Office for Women (OFW) is hosting the training series in collaboration with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness’ (LMPHW) Center for Health Equity, the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative of Catholic Charities and the Trauma Resilient Communities Project of the Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods. The training sessions will educate organizations on how to identify human trafficking, the importance of trauma-informed care and survivor engagement. The training series is made possible by funding through Metro United Way.

 “Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states and is a public health concern. When systems fail residents, they are more vulnerable to trafficking,” said Rebecca Hollenbach, executive administrator at the Center for Health Equity (CHE). “Between 2013 and 2020, 222 child trafficking incidents were reported in Jefferson County, and around 1,400 incidents were reported in Kentucky.” 

 “For more than two decades, most local and state policy efforts and funding have been focused on a criminal justice response to human trafficking," said Gretchen Hunt, executive administrator at the Office for Women. “So far, there has been limited successes in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking. More attention is needed to prevent human trafficking before it occurs.”   

 According to a policy brief, recently published by the Center for Health Equity, unhoused and runaway youth face some of the highest rates of trafficking. Research shows supportive housing and the presence of a caring adult are two of the most pressing unmet needs in the fight against human trafficking. A study by Polaris, an anti-trafficking group, shows about two-thirds of trafficking survivors reported being homeless or experiencing unstable housing when they were recruited. Concurrently, more support is needed for those exiting a trafficking situation when it comes to after-care housing and social support.  

 “Housing continues to be one of the most immediate and ongoing needs we see among individuals who have experienced sex or labor trafficking,” said Marissa Castellanos, program director of the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative at Catholic Charities of Louisville. “A direct line can often be made to housing instability and lack of safe housing prior to incidents of human trafficking. We must address access to safe and affordable housing as a method of prevention to decrease human trafficking in our communities.” 

 "Housing is the keystone to creating stability in the everyday lives of people. All Louisvillians should have access to attainable housing opportunities and choice across all of Louisville,” said Tony Curtis, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition. “We have an obligation as a city to provide the necessary programs, funding and supportive services to meet the specific needs of our neighbors who face barriers to a stable housing situation and suffer the horrific costs of a lack of housing. Survivors of human trafficking are no exception, as a lack of access to housing stability plays a large role in creating the environment for this to occur in the first place." 

 A human trafficking convening of organizations serving survivors of trafficking, scheduled for March 2023, will build on the training series by addressing housing, applying a racial equity lens to anti-trafficking work and strategic implementation of recommendations to prevent human trafficking.  

 The training series is free, but registration is required due to limited space. To register click here. Part one of the series will be held Sept. 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and part two will take place Nov. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both will be held in-person at the Southwest Regional Library, 9725 Dixie Highway.  

 The Office for Women is also inviting organizations that serve individuals who may be vulnerable to being trafficked, or who have been trafficked to fill out a survey in order to map resources and identify gaps.

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ABOUT LOUISVILLE METRO OFFICE FOR WOMEN  

The Louisville Metro Office for Women (OFW) was founded in 1991 with a focus on advancing the status of women in our community through education, advocacy and legislation.  We work to ensure that women have the resources, information, and a quality of life that are necessary for self-determination and self-sufficiency. The OFW is housed within the Office of Equity and our broad focus includes: 

  • Gender-Based Violence
  • Human Trafficking
  • Social and Economic Well-being
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Civic Engagement
  • Autonomy

 

ABOUT LOUISVILLE METRO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLNESS  

Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) is a nationally accredited, independent, academic health department committed to achieving health equity and improving the health and well-being of all Louisville residents and visitors.  

 

ABOUT METROPOLITAN HOUSING COALITION  

The Metropolitan Housing Coalition (MHC) is a 300+ member nonprofit advocacy and education organization that strengthens, unites, and mobilizes private and public resources to provide fair, accessible, and affordable housing for everyone in our Louisville community. 

 

ABOUT BAKHITA EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE

The Bakhita Empowerment Initiative (BEI) is a program that focuses on building capacity to address all forms of human trafficking, focusing on both prevention and response. BEI works to increase awareness of human trafficking, provide training and technical assistance to professionals and community members, engage in prevention work, do outreach to high-risk populations, provide direct services to survivors of trafficking, and increase capacity to address human trafficking issues in Kentucky and the larger anti-trafficking field.

 

Catholic Charities of Louisville is the social services ministry of the Archdiocese of Louisville, serving 24 counties in central Kentucky. The mission of Catholic Charities of Louisville is to serve people in need, especially the poor and oppressed.

 

 

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