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The Intersection of Homelessness and Human Trafficking in Oklahoma

January marks Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time when we shine a light on the dark reality of human trafficking. This global issue, which involves force, fraud, or coercion for labor or commercial sex, affects over a million victims in the United States alone, regardless of age, race, gender, or socio-economic status.

In Tulsa, recent data reveals a troubling scenario: in 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 438 signals from Oklahoma, with 206 from human trafficking victims or survivors. Tulsa’s proactive approach is evident in its collaboration with organizations like Domestic Violence Intervention Services and The Spring, which help victims, particularly those facing homelessness—a significant vulnerability for trafficking.

Leslie Clingenpeel of The Spring emphasizes the importance of addressing economic vulnerabilities to combat trafficking. Surveys indicate that 64% of trafficking survivors experienced homelessness or housing instability when they were recruited. This connection underlines the crucial role of community support in preventing trafficking.

To counter this, Tulsa focuses on enhancing access to safe housing, broadening social safety nets, shifting legal accountability towards traffickers, and educating the community about trafficking signs. The message is clear: meeting the needs of the vulnerable is key to preventing exploitation.

Key Takeaways

  • In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 438 signals from the state of Oklahoma, with 206 of those signals from victims or survivors of human trafficking.
  • The second highest risk factor/vulnerability for being trafficked for sex is being a youth who has run away or is experiencing homelessness. The third highest risk factor for being trafficked for labor is having an unstable housing situation.
  • To end human trafficking, communities need to ensure all community members have the things they need – security, financial stability, and social safety nets – to reduce the likelihood of a person being exploited for having those needs.
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