Updated: Nov 10, 2022
I am the Survivor Advocate at Streets Hope/Voluntad. I came onto Voluntad as a Peer Support Professional and mentor. I am a Survivor Leader in the anti-human trafficking movement, and I bring with me my own lived experience. As I near the end of my Master of Arts in Restorative Justice with a Victims Rights & Legal Studies focus, I have worked to develop our survivor advocacy programming here at Voluntad. Working with survivors of human trafficking can be both challenging and rewarding. My goal is to walk alongside survivors as they navigate their healing journeys.
One of the biggest challenges that survivors face when fleeing their trafficker is finding a safe place to stay. We know that the housing crisis has hit our unhoused community hard, and this makes it much harder for survivors to leave or escape their traffickers if there is no emergency housing for them when they are trying to find safety.
Shelters are overrun in Denver and Colorado, and there are very few beds available on a given day. When there are beds, they are often unsafe because traffickers know where the shelters are. Even if their trafficker does not search for them at the shelters, survivors are much more vulnerable to falling victim to other traffickers who may frequent the areas surrounding shelters. Children can represent another barrier to safety from a trafficker, as family shelter beds are very scarce and almost impossible to access on the run.
There is a dire need for emergency housing. Access to emergency options would fill a gap in our ability to work with individuals with immediate safety needs, while we work to secure more transitional, long-term, and permanent housing.