Maine efforts to combat human trafficking get federal funding

Advocates for homeless teenagers and young people with disabilities in southern Maine say a $400,000 federal grant will help dedicate resources for young people who have been coerced into trading sex for money or a place to sleep.

The two-year grant from the Department of Justice to Preble Street allocates funds directly to help victims of human trafficking. The social services agency in Portland, which also operates a teen center, will administer the money to agencies in Cumberland and York counties.

“It’s a collaborative grant that will address two kinds of human trafficking – labor trafficking and sex trafficking, (with) sex trafficking being the biggest concern right now in this area,” said Jon Bradley, Preble Street’s associate director. “It’s about people being coerced into sex for money, drugs and safety on the street.”

Bradley said the first $200,000 installment of the grant money was supposed to have been delivered Oct. 1, the day the federal government shutdown began. It should be available soon, now that the shutdown has ended.

Preble Street will use part of the money to hire a coordinator to pool the resources of agencies in southern Maine and develop a statewide network of housing and shelter options for sex-trafficking victims. “It goes to a lot of different providers,” Bradley said of the grant. [click here to read more on the Portland Press Herald website]