CHA Launches Program for Survivors of Human Trafficking
The Chicago Housing Authority is launching the first program of its kind in the country to address housing issues for survivors of human trafficking.
The pilot program stems from a task force President Barack Obama created to combat trafficking. Housing for people trying to escape was identified as a major barrier.
Federal officials approached Chicago to pilot a housing program. Over the next three years CHA will provide 60 subsidized housing vouchers.
“There is a significant lack of housing for people who are leaving their situation. It’s much analogous to victims of domestic violence when there wasn’t safe housing many years ago,” said Mary Howard with the Chicago Housing Authority.
Local social service agencies will refer trafficking survivors to the CHA program. One of those agencies is Heartland Alliance, which sees 20 to 25 survivors a year.
“When we meet survivors after they escape, they are at a tipping point,” said Megan Mahoney Heartland’s Freedom from Trafficking Program Director.
Many are still vulnerable from poverty, violence and exploitation, she said. They may not know English or have immigration trouble.
“Bouncing from one temporary housing situation to another doesn’t create the stability they need,” she said.
Mahoney said offering survivors subsidized housing has the power to change lives.