The Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force is proud to share its new report: Opening Doors: Louisiana Human Trafficking Survivor Housing Report. “Opening Doors” was created as a final product of a year-long community-based project to better understand trafficking survivor housing options in Louisiana. The housing report was created by integrating survey data of three key stakeholders in the housing process: housing providers, housing advocates, and trafficking survivors. This report is the first of its kind in Louisiana- collecting data to take a data-informed approach to understand the current housing landscape. Our goal for this report is to spark a conversation about survivor housing access that is guided by feedback from housing providers and also grounded in survivors' lived experiences. We hope this information can be a catalyst for future in-depth analysis of the housing system.
The report found that there are few specialized housing options in Louisiana- only 46 total, which are only available to female sex trafficking survivors. The report found that 84% of housing advocates serving trafficking survivors believe that there are not enough general housing or specialized housing options for trafficking survivors in Louisiana. See the flow chart below to learn which trafficking survivors have access to specialized housing services. Adults with children, labor trafficking survivors, males, and trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming individuals had fewer general housing options and no specialized housing options.
This report illuminates a contrast between the perspectives of housing providers and housing advocates in the process phase of housing. Important topics that highlight the contrasting points of view include: perceptions of bed availability and shelter fullness, intake process speed, and intake rigidity. For example, housing providers have a wide range of responses about how often they are full, which contrasted with housing advocate perception that beds are constantly full or unavailable. 56% of housing providers said they are full 60% or more of the time. Housing advocates identified that many clients were being screened out during the intake process, due to issues like history of behavioral health issues, mental health, criminal history, substance use, and cooperation with law enforcement.
Housing providers and housing advocates expressed varying degrees of success housing survivors. Stabilization was identified as the top success in the service phase by both housing providers and advocates. Stabilization is a process of helping survivors feel more safe, addressing basic needs, and addressing the survivor's acute needs. The most common successes housing providers identified were short and long term stability; and the most common success identified by housing advocates was general stabilization.
However, when we coded the responses of housing advocates we found that “no success” was the second most common phrase used to describe successes in the housing process. Housing advocates reported that a large portion of the survivors they serve do not make it into housing programs due to factors including identity, bed availability, and behavioral health. The most common challenge that housing providers identified in the service phase of housing is that survivors prematurely exit housing programs (such as running away, relapsing, or returning to their abuser).
Moving Forward: Next steps
This report marks the beginning of a data-informed conversation about housing for human trafficking survivors in Louisiana. Here are some ways that the community can take steps to build upon this information:
Convene a summit with key stakeholders (survivors, housing providers, advocates) to discuss the success and gaps identified in this report to discuss ways to improve survivor outcomes in the housing process.
Implement this housing project for a second iteration in 2-3 years to see how the landscape has changed in Louisiana.
Apply for funding to support the expansion of existing housing programs or development of trauma-informed, survivor-centered housing programs that serve trafficking survivors- particularly those who do not currently have specialized housing options.
Support future research that explore topics identified as key issues in this report, such as: how often shelters are full or at-capacity, which client demographics are successfully accessing housing, what housing success looks like for trafficking survivors and providers, and what alternative housing options (outside of the housing service provider landscape assessed in this report, such as therapeutic foster care programs) are available to trafficking survivors.
Conduct program evaluations of existing housing programs to understand client outcomes in the service phase of the housing process, and assess potential opportunities to improve housing accessibility and outcomes for survivors.
The Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force is a coalition of more than 80 state, civil society, and citizen organizers, the Task Force is committed to the prevention of human trafficking in the Greater New Orleans area through education, outreach, and collaboration. The Task Force’s primary goal is to collaborate in sharing and disseminating information, contacts, and protocols related to the existence, prevention, and response to human trafficking in New Orleans.