July 21, 2015     A recent survey of homeless youth at the Tumbleweed Emergency Housing Program (EHP) in Phoenix shows that sex trafficking, crime and violence were the most commonly cited reasons for seeking emergency shelter.

26 young people offered responses at Tumbleweed’s 33-bed Emergency Housing Program on East Van Buren Street in Phoenix. Six said they were fleeing sex traffickers, 5 reported being victims of crime such as robbery, 4 cited domestic violence, and two said they had been sexually assaulted. Family deportations, chronic poverty and family conflict were also cited.

“This is a representative snapshot,” said EHP Manager Corey Wolter. “Young people on the street are extremely vulnerable and are regularly victimized in some way. 23% of our residents that night reported that they had been sexually trafficked, a sad but not unusual fact.”

The Tumbleweed Emergency Housing Program is housed in a renovated motel and provides beds, bathroom and shower facilities, group meetings and evening meals during the evening and overnight hours 7 days a week. Young people have the opportunity to access other Tumbleweed services through the EHP, such as counseling, continuing education, life skills training and transitional housing support.

“It’s all about moving forward to independent young adulthood,” Wolter says. “With the right kind of support helping them deal with the trauma they have experienced, many get off the street permanently.”

Tumbleweed is the lead agency of the five-member AZ Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking.

A homeless youth in a room at the Tumbleweed Emergency Housing Program in a picture taken last year.