U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst announces award to provide housing to victims of human trafficking in Mississippi

Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence Receives $379,996.00 from Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst announced that the state of Mississippi received $379,996.00 from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs and its component, the Office for Victims of Crime, to provide safe, stable housing and appropriate services to victims of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a barbaric criminal enterprise that subjects its victims to unspeakable cruelty and deprives them of the most basic of human needs, none more essential than a safe place to live,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Throughout this Administration, the Department of Justice has fought aggressively to bring human traffickers to justice and to deliver critical aid to 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.”

“We have made fighting human trafficking a priority in this office, and this grant to one of our nonprofit partners on the Mississippi Human Trafficking Council will go a long way in providing necessary, life-saving services to human trafficking victims,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.  “We will continue to do all that we can to protect victims, prevent trafficking, and prosecute criminals.”

The grant, awarded to the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence, will provide 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 grant will also provide funding for support needed to help victims locate permanent housing, secure employment, as well as occupational training and counseling.

The Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence is a member of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Council, which is a comprehensive group of stakeholders from throughout Mississippi created in September 2019 by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern and Northern Districts of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, taking a victim-centered, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary approach to fighting all forms of domestic and international human trafficking throughout Mississippi.

The Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence is among 73 organizations receiving more than $35 million in OVC grants to support housing services for human trafficking survivors.

“Human traffickers dangle the threat of homelessness over those they have entrapped, playing a ruthless game of psychological manipulation that victims are never in a position to win,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kathrine T. Sullivan. “These grants will empower survivors on their path to independence and a life of self-sufficiency and hope.”

Human trafficking offenses are among the most difficult crimes to identify, and the scope of human trafficking victimization may be much greater than the limited data reflect. A new report issued by the National Institute of Justice, another component of the Office of Justice Programs, found that the number of human trafficking cases captured in police reports may represent only a fraction of all such cases. Expanding housing and other services to trafficking victims remains a top Justice Department priority.

The Office for Victims of Crime, for example, hosted listening sessions and roundtable discussions with stakeholders in the field in 2018 and launched the Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center. From July 2018 through June 2019, 118 OVC human trafficking grantees reported serving 8,375 total clients including confirmed trafficking victims and individuals showing strong indicators of trafficking victimization.

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