Provide housing for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) provides safe and stable housing to young women, ages 16 to 21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking through the agency’s Transitional Independent Living housing program with 24-hour support.
Why we care: Lacking appropriate and safe housing is one of the main reasons commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked young women are vulnerable to recruitment into the commercial sex industry.
How we’re solving this: GEMS’ Transitional Independent Living housing program provides housing with 24-hour support for up to 18 months.
Commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women come to GEMS with myriad complex needs, but name safe housing as a pivotal obstacle to safely exiting the commercial sex industry. To meet this need, GEMS’ Transitional Independent Living housing program offers young women the opportunity to recover, rebuild their lives, and become healthy, self-sufficient adults. With the right support, young women who come to GEMS succeed at attaining the goals they set for themselves.
In addition to providing safe housing, GEMS meets members’ basic needs by providing food, transportation, and qualified and dedicated staff to facilitate their transition. GEMS needs financial support to help provide housing and basic needs—such as food, toiletries, clothing, transportation, and formal identification—as well as for dedicated support staff, to work with a growing number of young women coming to GEMS. In addition to housing, members receive stipends for attending youth development program activities that foster creativity and healing.
In 2012, GEMS helped 83% of the 148 members engaged in the agency’s Support Services program to obtain safe and stable housing. GEMS considers this percentage successful and continually works toward providing more young women who are commercial sexual exploitation survivors with housing. Through the Transitional Independent Living program, a growing number of young women exit the commercial sex industry, heal from the trauma they’ve endured, and develop to their full potential.