Maryland to receive $1 million from DOJ to combat human trafficking

Maryland will be awarded nearly $1 million in federal funds to assist victims of human trafficking with finding safe housing, employment and counseling services.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced in a news release Tuesday a $999,990 award from the Justice Department’s Office of Programs and the Office for Victims of Crime to provide stable housing options and employment opportunities for human 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.” said U.S. Attorney Gen. William Barr.

“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.”

The White House on Tuesday announced more than $35 million in Justice Department grants to organizations that provide safe housing for victims of human trafficking.

The grants will be shared by 73 organizations in 33 states — including Maryland — to provide anywhere from six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance to survivors, including to pay rent, utilities or related expenses, such as a security deposit.

Maryland’s $1 million allotment will go the Salvation Army of Central Maryland and the University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, helping provide two years of short-term housing assistance for victims including with rent, security deposits or relocation costs.

The money will provide support for survivors seeking permanent housing, secure employment and occupational training or counseling.

“This OVC grant will enable us to expand our services to also provide supportive transitional housing and independent housing assistance, as well as partnering with business and community leaders to build out initiatives focused on employment and financial independence,” said Beth Luthye, who directs the Salvation Army’s Baltimore-based anti-trafficking program.

“Stable housing is foundational to human trafficking survivors’ ability to rebuild their lives,” said Susan Esserman, director and founder of the University of Maryland’s SAFE Center. “We feel fortunate to be partnering with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services in a rapid rehousing model to address this urgent housing need.”

Worldwide efforts to combat human and labor trafficking have struggled financially amid a surge in people vulnerable to exploitation during the coronavirus pandemic. American and Canadian non-governmental organizations said traffickers are increasingly taking advantage of heavier Internet usage during lockdowns to target young people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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