A North County organization was awarded $500,000 in grant funding from the Department of Justice on Tuesday to provide up to two years of transitional housing assistance for human trafficking victims.
North County Lifeline Inc. is one of 73 grant awardees to receive funding Tuesday aimed at providing six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance for trafficking victims, including rental, utilities or related expenses, such as security deposits and relocation costs.
The funding will also go toward assisting victims in finding permanent housing, employment, occupational training and counseling.
The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, awarded $35,104,338 overall to organizations across 34 states, in what the department said was the largest federal investment of its kind.
North County Lifeline Inc. is a community-based human services organization serving low-income and underserved populations in San Diego County, according to the organization's website.
The organization's housing program utilizes a housing-first model that does not require tenants to meet criteria that often precludes trafficking victims from attaining housing, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, which said substance abuse issues, mental health issues and prior criminal records often keep trafficking victims from qualifying for long-term housing.
The office said the organization is looking to serve around 75 trafficking victims over the project period. Clients will also be offered supportive services such as ongoing case management, medical and dental care, (limited) legal assistance, literacy/GED/education assistance, LGBTQ services, substance abuse treatment, trauma counseling, life skills training, and employment and financial coaching.
"Eradicating the horrific crime of human trafficking and helping its victims are top priorities for the Department of Justice," U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. "We are working relentlessly to bring human traffickers to justice and to deliver critical aid to trafficking survivors, who often have nowhere to go once they are freed from trafficking. We cannot allow the trauma of trafficking to give way to new dangers caused by homelessness, which often leads to re-victimization by predators. These funds will provide San Diego victims the shelter and support they need to turn the corner and begin a new life."