Video provides look into new housing for trafficked victims
TORONTO, Sept. 22, 2016 – As the first young residents move into Covenant House Toronto’s new transitional housing program for sex trafficking victims, the agency today launched a virtual tour of the house to provide an inside look at the new facility.
Seven young women, aged 16 to 24, will live in the residence, called The Rogers Home, for up to two years and have access to wraparound support services at Covenant House’s main location and through a network of community partners. The location will remain confidential. The video is available here on Covenant House Toronto’s YouTube channel.
“We are proud to be launching this progressive program which will provide critically needed housing and comprehensive support to these young women to help them reclaim their lives,” Bruce Rivers, Covenant House executive director said. “The opening of The Rogers Home is also an important milestone in our broader anti-trafficking efforts.” The agency is one of the country’s largest providers of hands-on services to trafficked victims.
In addition to stable housing and life skills training, the program will provide the residents with community-based trauma counselling and addictions treatment as well as Covenant House’s educational and vocational assistance. They will also have access to the agency’s community apartments and aftercare when they are ready to leave the house.
Rivers was joined at today’s media launch by trafficking survivor, Casandra Diamond, a member of the Covenant House’s Sex Trafficking Advisory Committee.
The result of more than four years of research, planning and community consultation, the program, one of the few in Canada for trafficked victims, is a significant pilot project. The agency will evaluate the program model and develop resources to be shared through an online hub.
The housing model’s development was guided by the agency’s advisory committee, including Crown attorneys, the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit, mental health specialists, victim services agencies and former victims.
Covenant House has partnered with more than 10 leading youth-serving organizations expert in trauma and addiction, police and legal professionals and hospitals to help deliver the wraparound support.
Toronto Community Housing (TCH) is contributing the property to Covenant House through a long-term lease at a nominal fee. The City of Toronto and TCH provided significant capital funding for the restoration of the house and improvements to the building.
Covenant House will fund the ongoing operating costs and contributed to the renovations and the furnishings. Douglas Design Studio donated its interior design services to help create a welcoming environment and was able to source many of the furnishings at significant discounts.
The agency’s $10-million fundraising campaign, chaired by Suzanne Rogers, will support the house and a comprehensive anti-sex trafficking plan over the next five years. So, far the campaign has raised $8.8 million.
The plan, an Urban Response Model, includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, including the house, and the research and evaluation component.
Sex trafficking, the most common type of human trafficking in Canada, is a growing public issue and is a largely domestic crime. Some ninety percent of victims are female and most are Canadian girls as young as 13, and on average 17.
While homeless youth are at a high risk of being trafficked, Rivers explained, unsuspecting young women and girls are also being lured from malls, school yards and online. The agency saw the number of its cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation increase more than 40% last year to 64.
Covenant House Toronto, Canada’s largest homeless youth agency, provides the widest range of services under one roof to at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth.
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