Advocates: Shortage Of Shelters For Human Trafficking Victims

Task Force reports shelter and funding shortage

Columbia, (WLTX)- Right now, the state's Human Trafficking Task Force is experiencing a shortage in funding and shelters for victims.

Advocates from all across the state got together in West Columbia to collaborate and network. 

There's just one shelter in the Midlands that houses human trafficking victims, says Marie Sazehn. She's the State Coordinator for the Human Trafficking Task Force.

Advocates are having to send victims to out-of-state shelters and sometimes, shelters for domestic violence victims. The one human trafficking shelter here is ran by volunteers and they can only take 6 victims.

While they say they need to expand the facility and hopefully open one for young people, the funding just isn't there.  

Most in the meeting share the same passion to fight human trafficking and Shannon Piller says most are facing the same problem, funding.

He's a part of the Task Force and says this issue is really hindering what they could be doing for victims now, "we've got task forces that are mandated but they're unfunded task forces so it's just hard to do anything other than what we already do with the regional task forces in the state."

Sazehn says they're still struggling to get law enforcement to pull cases for their data collection, "we still need agencies that are willing to work with us and pull their incident reports for the listed offenses that we're looking to identify indicators of human trafficking from 2013-2015."

She says there's one group of victims that desperately need the help, minor victims of sex trafficking.




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