Phoenix AZ (October 7, 2015)  Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development has received a $600,000 grant from the Department of Justice to provide housing and therapeutic support for survivors of sex trafficking.

Author and sex trafficking survivor Leah Rogers speaks to Tumbleweed youth this summer.

The three-year grant from the Office for Victims of Crime will fund “healing house” apartments in one- or two-bedroom settings as well as an independent therapist/counselor who will work exclusively with program participants. Tumbleweed will also establish sex trafficking survivors groups “that welcome survivors of all sexual orientations,” said Tumbleweed Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Schuler.

“This is a tremendous boost in the effort to help Arizona-based individuals traumatized by sex trafficking,” she said. “Tumbleweed’s growing reputation as a leader in this fight and our location at an important human trafficking crossroads also contributed to this important development.”

“Traffickers target people of all sexual orientations,” Schuler added. “They use coercion and force to lure young people who are susceptible for many reasons including psychological and emotional vulnerability, economic hardship or lack of family support.”

A survey of youth at Tumbleweed conducted last year by the ASU Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research revealed that one out of 4 reported a history of being sex trafficked. “Clearly, homeless youth are particularly vulnerable,” Schuler added.

“We intend to move rapidly in making a difference in the lives of those who are suffering,” Schuler said, adding she expects the housing and counseling services to be in place by the end of the year.

The grant marks the first time Tumbleweed has been funded by the Department of Justice and advances the agency’s involvement in the sex trafficking issue. In 2014, the Tumbleweed-led Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive case management for victims of human trafficking in Maricopa and Pima counties.