PHOENIX - Attorney General Brnovich announced today the Attorney General's Office (AGO) awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to community organizations that provide support services and shelter to survivors of human trafficking. Nearly 150 individuals, including children and babies, are expected to benefit from services funded by the grants.
Four different grants were awarded to organizations including the Phoenix Dream Center, Starfish Place, Our Family Services, and A New Leaf. The funds will help the organizations expand survivors’ access to temporary or permanent shelter, counseling, education, medical care, vocational training, and other related essential support services for trafficking victims.
"Whether it be holding perpetrators accountable, educating the public on the signs of trafficking, or helping survivors heal, we must do everything we can to end this despicable crime," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "It will take the community coming together in order to help victims recover and I am proud our office can provide additional resources to organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of survivors."
City Help/Phoenix Dream Center
The AGO awarded $75,000 to City Help Inc., Phoenix Dream Center, to expand shelter beds and on-site medical, psychological, educational, and legal services.
"We are blown away at the level of commitment and support that the Arizona Attorney General's Office continues to provide to victims and survivors of human trafficking. Not only is the AG's office on the front lines of making our community safer through aggressive commitment to prosecuting traffickers, their release of grant funding to help organizations who assist survivors is changing the landscape of services available to survivors." - Pastor Brian Steele, Executive Director, Phoenix Dream Center
The City of Phoenix/Starfish Place
The AGO awarded $75,000 to Starfish Place to add therapeutic services to individuals living at Phoenix Starfish Place, the first permanent supportive housing program for sex trafficked survivors in the country.
"As one of the nation’s first ever public housing for victims of human trafficking, Starfish Place has become a beacon of hope for women and children trying to break the cycle. I am thrilled to hear that Starfish Place has received a $75,000 grant award from the Office of the Arizona Attorney General. I am also not surprised, given the personal attention and resources Attorney General Brnovich has devoted to fighting this disgusting scourge on our community. This grant will help fund essential onsite medical care, child care assistance and tuition fees for victims. Now more than ever, we must ensure that this vital property and the resources it provides are available to those who need it.” - Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring, Chair, Human Trafficking Task Force
Our Family Services
The AGO awarded $75,000 to Our Family Services to expand emergency temporary shelter and permanent housing for survivors, in addition to providing trauma-informed case management.
"We are so grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for their work in supporting survivors of human trafficking and for including Our Family Services in this funding opportunity. Since the inception of our human trafficking programs, we have provided housing and case management for 73 households and less intensive case management and referrals for 330 trafficked individuals. These funds will allow us to continue to serve and empower this vulnerable population". – Beth Morrison, CEO, Our Family Services
A New Leaf
The AGO awarded $49,130 to A New Leaf to expand the provision of emergency shelter and Rapid Re-Housing assistance, wrap-around support services, and purchase a van to transport survivors to appointments.
"A New Leaf has recently expanded Emergency Shelter and Rapid Re-Housing Services to address the unique needs and recovery goals of survivors of human trafficking in our community. We are proud to partner with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General to offer individuals the opportunity to escape exploitation, abuse and homelessness. Funding awarded to A New Leaf will allow us to improve accessibility and effectiveness of wrap around support services, such as food, shelter, counseling, victim advocacy, life skills training, transportation, workforce development, financial literacy, and housing navigation services, by purchasing a program van and providing specific training for program staff." - Michael Hughes, President & CEO, A New Leaf
Funding for this grant was provided by fees and penalties obtained from a settlement negotiated by the Attorney General's Office with Wells Fargo. Rep. Shawnna Bolick advocated for the funding to be included in the 2019 legislative budget.
AGO Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
Since taking office in 2015, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has prosecuted 251 cases connected to sex trafficking, child sexual exploitation, or illegal enterprises/money laundering in the trafficking arena. Those numbers include all forms of sex trafficking and other illegal enterprises involving the sexual exploitation of others for money.
Examples of cases related to sex trafficking:
- Registered Sex Offender and Co-Conspirators Indicted in Alleged Prostitution Ring
- Robert Hood Sentenced to 108 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
- Glendale Couple Indicted for Child Sex Trafficking
- Operator of AZ Sex Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison
- San Tan Valley Man Sentenced to Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
- Phoenix Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
In addition to criminal prosecutions, the AGO offers free human trafficking awareness programs for youth, parents, and the general public. The trainings include information on the connection between social media and trafficking, warning signs, as well as healthy and unhealthy relationship indicators. Since January 2015, trainers have presented this program approximately 118 times to over 4,971 attendees while distributing over 8,000 education booklets. Presentations are currently being held online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requests can be made online.
The AGO also participates in the Strength Through Resilience, Endurance “N” Growth Through Hope (STRENGTH) program, a specialized court that provides additional resources and services for child victims of sex trafficking. History shows there is a high rate of re-victimization for minors in these crimes. Since STRENGTH’s inception in 2018, there has been a significant decline in the number of minor victims who have fled placement and returned to the streets (less than 5%). Additionally, victims have assisted with the identification and prosecution of their pimps.
Other AGO involvement includes:
- SAFE Action Project (training for tourism industry)
- Truckers Against Trafficking
- Governor’s Task Force On Human Trafficking
- City of Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force
If you are the victim of human trafficking or if you suspect someone may be the victim of human traffickers, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to: BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages.