March 3, 2023
DOJ Grant to Increase Support for Human Trafficking Survivors
Funding will support survivors’ access to safe housing
BANGOR, Maine – Penquis has been awarded funding from the US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, to increase access to housing for survivors of human trafficking. The grant of $615,066 will enable Penquis and collaborators Rape Response Services, Partners for Peace, and CourageLIVES to provide survivors with housing navigation services and short-term housing assistance.
“Survivor access to permanent housing is a critical component of achieving long-term safety,” said Tamar Mathieu, director of Family Enrichment Services for Penquis and executive director of Rape Response Services. “The need for support is particularly critical, given the lack of affordable housing and the number of individuals impacted by human trafficking.”
Mathieu says that many people are unaware of the prevalence of human trafficking in Maine. More than 150 survivors of human trafficking and 200 of their family members were served in the Greater Bangor region in the calendar year 2021 alone, according to figures provided by a consortium of local service providers funded through an effort led by CourageLIVES.
“As part of the work funded by the grant, we will be training stakeholders and community members in understanding and identifying human trafficking. This will give survivors the best chance of receiving the help they need,” said Mathieu.
Services funded by the grant will enable survivors to obtain stable housing and have access to resources that support safety, self-sufficiency, autonomy, and well-being. The collaborating partners will deliver services in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. Survivors residing outside of the two-county area may be eligible for assistance if they relocate to the region.
Training will be provided by the Penquis Sex and Labor Trafficking Action Response Team, a multidisciplinary team comprised of organizations that provide services to survivors of human trafficking and exploitation. The group includes representatives from the collaborating partner organizations as well as St. Joseph Healthcare, Penobscot Nation Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center and others.
For more information on services available to survivors of human trafficking or on training opportunities, contact the Sex and Labor Trafficking Action Response Team at START@penquis.org or by calling the Rape Response Services 24-hour helpline at 1-800-871-7741 or the Rape Response Services office at 207-947-2436.
*** Established in 1967, Penquis is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting Maine families in becoming healthy, safe, connected and financially secure. Penquis offers more than 50 programs and serves primarily low- and moderate-income individuals in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties. The agency touches the lives of approximately 5,000 people each day and more than 25,000 each year