WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Tuesday announced more than $35 million in Justice Department grants to organizations that provide safe housing for victims of human trafficking.
Attorney General William Barr and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump announced the awards at a White House event attended by human trafficking victims and organizations that serve them.
Barr called human trafficking an “evil scourge,” and he thanked President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka for working to end human trafficking and help survivors. Beyond the financial support, Barr said his department will do everything possible to “investigate, prosecute and punish” traffickers.
Ivanka Trump called human trafficking the “gravest of human rights violations.” She said the event was a “celebration” of the work by the administration and the participants to confront trafficking, as well as an opportunity to hear victims tell their personal stories.
Later in the program, Barr became emotional and partly covered his face with a hand as those stories were being told.
The $35 million in Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking is being provided by the Office for Victims of Crime within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to provide housing and services to human trafficking survivors.
The grants will be shared by 73 organizations in 33 states to provide anywhere from six to 24 months of transitional or short-term housing assistance to survivors, including to pay rent, utilities or related expenses, such as a security deposit, the White House said.
The money can also be used to help victims find permanent housing, get a job and receive occupational training and counseling.
Ivanka Trump said the coronavirus pandemic has made safe and supportive housing for survivors more important than ever. She said many survivors had to live with their traffickers during stay-at-home orders around the country.
Among organizations sharing the grants are Camillus House Inc. in Miami, Alternatives for Girls in Detroit and the Jordan Community Resource Center in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
President Trump has sought to elevate the fight against human trafficking since taking office. In January, he appointed a special adviser for the issue.