According to the Department of Justice, Houston is one of the most intense jurisdictions for trafficking in the U.S. To combat this issue, Houston has created a four-pronged approach.
Outreach, Training, and Prevention
– United Against Human Trafficking leads the effort to spread awareness and educate the community and front-line professionals such as law enforcement, healthcare, and social service providers to identify victims of human trafficking.
Investigation, Rescue, and Prosecution
– Houston formed the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) in 2004 as a collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies working together with area social service organizations to identify and assist the victims of human trafficking and to effectively identify, apprehend and prosecute those engaged in trafficking offenses. HTRA is chaired by the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas. Visit their site to learn more: http://www.justice.gov/usao/txs/1Programs/HTRA.html.
Victim Services and Protection
– YMCA International is the federally designated service provider of victims of trafficking in Houston and their Trafficked Persons Assistance Program has assisted victims since 2003, serving over 460 survivors of trafficking to date. They provide holistic case management services to all victims of human trafficking, including safety planning, housing, medical and mental health assistance, job training, ESL and GED classes as well as many more services. Visit the YMCA International TPAP program site to learn more: https://www.ymcahouston.org/ymca-international/programs/.
– United Against Human Trafficking partners with community-based organizations to implement outreach projects to bring more attention to this issue in their specific communities.