Golden, Hevesi Lead Coalition Calling on Governor Cuomo to Sign Legislation Creating Culturally Competent Shelters for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Survivors, State Senators, State Assembly Members, New York City Council Members, and Not-For-Profit Organizations hold press conference urging Governor Cuomo to sign into law S.8305/A.9566, establishing “culturally competent” short-term safe house residential facilities and long-term safe house residential facilities and services for survivors of human trafficking

Forest Hills, NY – The primary need for victims of human trafficking is a safe place to stay to escape their abusers. In order to assist survivors of trafficking, New York State Senator Martin Golden (S.D. 22), Vice Chair, Majority Conference, and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28), Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Social Services, several human trafficking survivors and multiple not-for-profit survivors’ advocacy groups – including Safe Horizon, Coalition for the Homeless, The Center for Court Innovation, My Sister’s Place, Covenant House, The Legal Aid Society, Sanctuary for Families, and the Korean American Family Services Center -- held a press conference on the steps of New York City hall on July 12th, calling on Governor Cuomo to sign into law S.8305/A.9566, a joint bill to establish “culturally competent” short-term safe house residential facilities and long-term safe house residential facilities and services operated by not-for-profit agencies for survivors of human trafficking.

Specific services offered within these facilities will include case management, health care, mental health counseling, drug addiction screening and treatment, language interpretation and translation services, English language instruction, job training and placement assistance, post-employment services for job retention, and services to assist the victim and their family members establish permanent residency.

“This bill provides victims of human trafficking a safe and supportive place to stay. These facilities will not only be offering a safe place to live, they will also be providing life-changing services. I want to thank my colleague Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi for his efforts in getting this important bill passed in the NYS Assembly. Together we call on Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law so that here in New York State, we can help the brave individuals who have escaped the horrors of human trafficking and offer them a safe haven where they can get the help and services they need.” – Said Senator Martin Golden (S.D. 22)

“A huge thank you to the brave survivors of human trafficking who shared their personal stories and spoke out today about the need for Governor Cuomo to sign S.8305/A.9566 into law. This legislation, which has unanimously passed both houses of the legislature, will provide culturally competent shelters and services for the hundreds of others who are trafficked in New York State every year. I would also like to thank the following groups for attending today’s press conference, but more importantly for the incredible work they do every day – Safe Horizon, Coalition for the Homeless, The Center for Court Innovation, My Sister’s Place, Covenant House, The Legal Aid Society, Sanctuary for Families, SAFE Network, Inc., and the Korean American Family Services Center. Further, I would like to thank Senator Martin Golden for carrying this bill in the Senate, and Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, Councilman Barry Grodenchik, and Councilman Mark Gjonaj, for attending today’s press conference and their unwavering support for this bill.” – Said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28)

“Traffickers often target foreign nationals, using their little knowledge of the language, laws, and their rights to exploit and trap victims into a living nightmare. Knowing this, we must do more to ensure that survivors of human trafficking receive the care and attention they need in order to succeed in society. This means providing them with language-accessible and culturally-competent services such as counseling, job training, health care, emergency temporary housing, English language services, disability services should they require it, and legal assistance. It is time for our city and state to step up and provide victims of human trafficking with an equitable opportunity to find success. Thank you to Assemblymember Hevesi and Senator Golden for leading our State’s efforts to combat human trafficking!” – Said Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (A.D. 65)

“I am dedicated to uniting people of all cultures and bringing the simple daily resources of life to survivors of human trafficking. We must work as a village to end the harms caused by human trafficking.” – Said Famatta T. Massalay, Survivor of Human Trafficking

“We don’t need any more empathy. We need more beds and funding. A place that survivors of human trafficking can call home, feel safe, and start the process of getting back their lives. It now falls upon Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law and protect countless survivors of human trafficking.” – Said Jasmine Ortiz, Survivor of Human Trafficking and Executive Director SAFE Network Inc.

“A culturally competent shelter system is not only empathetic, but most importantly constructive in assisting survivors through the recovery process. No amount of therapy, support, or referrals can be beneficial if culture and community are not considered. I stand with my colleagues in the state legislature in support of establishing such stability to help the survivors of human trafficking in New York and I hope to see the bill signed into law.” – Said Councilman Barry Grodenchik (C.D. 23)

“Safe houses established to meet the special needs of survivors of human trafficking are desperately needed, and we thank Senator Golden and Assemblyman Hevesi for their work on this common sense legislation. It passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously last month and now we need Gov. Cuomo to request the bill and sign it into law as soon as possible to ensure that those fleeing traffickers get the help and care they so critically need.” – Said Shelly Nortz, Coalition for the Homeless

“Safe Horizon, the nation’s leading victim assistance organization, applauds Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Marty Golden for their leadership in shepherding historic new legislation forward in Albany to create new shelters for survivors of human trafficking. At Safe Horizon, we work with a broad spectrum of trafficking survivors – men and women, children and adults, and of all gender expressions and sexual identities. We offer critical assistance, intensive case management, and legal services. Where possible, we house trafficking survivors in our domestic violence and homeless youth shelters, but space is not always available. This new legislation will create desperately needed new shelter capacity for trafficking survivors, and will help forge a path to safety and stability. We urge Governor Cuomo to pass this bill into law as soon as possible, and to dedicate all of the necessary resources.” – Said Michael Polenberg, VP of Government Affairs, Safe Horizon

“Covenant House New York serves New York City's homeless and trafficked youth by providing food, shelter and extensive wraparound services including mental health care, legal services, a medical clinic and educational and vocational training. This bill is especially important to us because sadly pimps make homeless youth a primary target. There are simply not enough beds dedicated specifically to trafficking survivors in New York State…and when there isn't a bed for a trafficking survivor, the odds are high that the victim will be re-trafficked. But when trafficking survivors find culturally competent services and beds, they can leave their exploitation behind and find their way to happy, productive lives free from abuse and exploitation. We are so grateful for the support of Assembly Member Hevesi and Sen. Golden for their tireless advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.” – Said Jayne Bigelson, VP of Anti Trafficking Initiatives/Advocacy Covenant House New York

“Sheltering survivors of gender abuse means more than simply putting a roof over their heads. As we have learned at Sanctuary for Families, to effectively shelter human trafficking survivors and restore their well-being, we must provide resources and remedies tailored to their circumstances, including their language and culture. There is desperate need for safe havens equipped for this monumental and particular task. We thank New York State Senator Golden and Assemblyman Hevesi for their leadership in crafting legislation that will establish culturally competent shelters for human trafficking survivors. This is an important first step, one that we hope is followed by specific program and funding initiatives.” – Said Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families

"Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that involves the use of violence, and for immigrant victims, human trafficking can be a hidden crime. Language barriers, strong cultural stigma, shaming, self-blaming and fear of traffickers and law enforcement make it so difficult for them to speak up and seek help," said Ji Ye Kim, Community Outreach Manager Social Worker. "We, KAFSC, work closely with the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court to help victims rebuild their lives. Over 90% of them are Korean-Chinese, and over 70% have history of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many have children overseas to support financially and speak little to no English. Over 50% don’t have legal status. We provide victim/survivor centered services, and what we’ve realized, like many other service providers, is that the most essential need for many survivors of human trafficking is a safe, supportive place to stay. It is very important to secure shelter capacity tailored to meet the culturally competent needs of trafficking survivors. With that being said, we, KAFSC, fully support the movement to create culturally competent shelters to protect human trafficking survivors."

“Human trafficking is a national epidemic. As electeds in the Assembly, we must do everything we can to ensure survivors the safety and support they so much deserve in New York State. Adequate temporary and long term housing specifically geared to those who have been through this traumatic experience will ensure survivors will receive the support and care necessary to transition back into the community. It’s time for A.9566 to be signed.” – Said Assemblyman Mike Miller (A.D. 38)

"I am proud to stand with my colleagues in government in support of a plan to create culturally competent shelters for survivors of human trafficking. These individuals have gone through one of the worst possible tragedies and it is our job to get them back on their feet" – Said Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez (A.D. 80)

For many survivors of human trafficking, their most immediate and essential need is a safe, supportive place to stay. In New York State, some survivors turn to a network of temporary shelters to meet this need. Homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and runaway and homeless youth shelters can all help, but only if the trafficking survivor meets each shelter system's particular eligibility requirements. Because many trafficking survivors either may not meet these requirements or, even if they qualify, may not be able to find a vacant bed or unit, it's clear that more shelter capacity – tailored to meet the particular, culturally competent needs of trafficking survivors – is necessary. It now falls upon Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law and protect countless survivors of human trafficking.