Tampa Awarded Anti-Trafficking Grant from Department of Justice
By: Laura Poff
The Tampa Area Command received a grant from the Department of Justice to fund temporary emergency housing for victims of human trafficking. The grant will provide $200,000 each year for three years during which time The Salvation Army will be the main point of contact for law enforcement officers looking to place victims.
“Law enforcement is very excited about this,” said Dotti Groover-Skipper, Florida’s Divisional Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. “They often have a rescue situation in the middle of the night and have to go through several organizations to find a place for victims and if there’s nowhere to place them, officers are forced to put them in jail for their own safety, which is more traumatizing to the victim. It is much-needed to have one point of contact for the Tampa area.”
Victims will be housed in a secure, undisclosed location for up to 72 hours until longer-term housing can be secured through partner organizations in the area. The area command will also work with partners to facilitate case management.
“Collaboration in the community has been wonderful,” Groover-Skipper said. “We are really experts at providing people shelter and we saw the need and are trying to fill in the gap.”
She stressed the importance of working together to combat trafficking and commended the Tampa Area Command for working with other members of the community to better serve victims.
“This issue is so huge that organization cannot end trafficking alone,” she said. “Community partnerships are crucial.”
Facilitation for the grant is set to begin by the end of the year with the temporary housing project underway by January 1.