Last year the Super Bowl brought heightened awareness of sex trafficking in the Twin Cities but the societal issues that keep people from leaving “the life” remain. The Family Partnership Promoting Recovery, Independence, Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) program increased outreach and service delivery to survivors of sex trafficking by 42 percent in 2018.
What makes it difficult to escape sexual exploitation? A common thread is low income.
In 2018, 98 percent of people PRIDE served are living in poverty: 56 percent are living at 100 percent of poverty or below, and 42 percent are living at 200 percent of poverty or below as defined by 2019 Federal Guidelines. So helping survivors find affordable housing, or a job, might also mean support in sealing or expunging a criminal record. PRIDE also now offers evidence-based economic mobility services such as Mobility Mentoring, a breakthrough strategy to help women escape intergenerational poverty.
“On the Streets” outreach increases to victims/survivors in high risk areas of Minneapolis in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
Every week, staff from the PRIDE program and the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) walk the streets to meet victims/survivors of trafficking where they are. “We have an outreach bag of items they may need from gloves to hygiene products,” said Pinto. “We offer to connect them to whatever services they may need from shelter to Rule 25 chemical health assessment, or group therapy.”
In 2018, these teams provided outreach to 317 individuals. Of those, 91 percent of survivors were engaged on the streets of the Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis, and nine percent on Minneapolis’ Northside. From the first quarter to third quarter last year, the outreach contacts grew by 208 percent. The program is continuing in 2019. It was started in August of 2017 and is funded by the City of Minneapolis Health Department.
Underserved populations – Of those served by the “On the Streets” outreach program with MIWRC, 68 percent were American Indian followed by 22 percent African American. For the PRIDE program overall, 36 percent of people served were African American, 26 percent were Caucasian, 16 percent American Indian and 15 percent multiracial.
More public awareness – Overall, PRIDE staff increased educational trainings on recognizing signs of sex trafficking and what to do if someone is sexually exploited, by 522 percent in 2018 (859 people reached vs. 138 in 2017). The PRIDE staff regularly engages with residents and business owners in the Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods to educate about sex trafficking and our outreach activity.
Serving survivors from age 10 to 56 years-old – PRIDE provides services across the lifespan. In 2018, 61 per cent of those served were from age 25 to age 65. That is an important service distinction, since the Minnesota Safe Harbor legislation covers services for those age 24 and younger (with no criminal charges for those 18 and under) – leaving a significant gap for those age 25 and older.
“It is important that we serve all ages to help break the intergenerational cycle of sexual exploitation,” says Pinto. “But trafficking is not just going to go away until we address the larger barriers that families with low incomes face, from accessible and affordable housing, to resources for education and economic mobility.”