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$10-million anti-sex trafficking plan launched by Covenant House Toronto

TORONTO, Jan. 20, 2016 – A $10-million fundraising campaign to support a new comprehensive, coordinated anti-sex trafficking plan, including more help for young, female victims, was launched at Covenant House Toronto today.

Chaired by Suzanne Rogers, the campaign, “Just Like a Girl You Know,” will support the implementation of the broad-ranging plan over the next five years.

“Our goal is to provide leadership and forge the community partnerships necessary to provide the critical help these young women need and to prevent this horrific crime,” Bruce Rivers, Covenant House executive director said.

Covenant House’s “Urban Response Model” includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, including its transitional housing program, and a research and evaluation component to assess the services and develop an online resource hub.

The $10-million fundraising campaign has already garnered more than $6.5 million in pledges and major supporters include the Rogers Foundation, The Slaight Family Foundation, the Gooder Foundation, Justice Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. In recognition of the Rogers Foundation gift, the house will be called The Rogers Home.

Six young women, aged 16 to 24, will live in the residence for up to two years and have access to wraparound support services at Covenant House’s main location and through a network of community partners. To view a virtual tour of the home, click here.

Toronto Community Housing is providing a $1 annual lease for the house and the City of Toronto is renovating the building and supporting two dedicated crisis beds – a first in the city.

In addition to stable housing and life skills training, the program will provide the residents with community-based trauma counselling and addictions treatment as well as Covenant House’s educational and vocational assistance. They will also have access to the agency’s community apartments and after-care when they are ready to leave the house.

Covenant House has partnered with more than 10 leading youth-serving organizations expert in trauma and addiction, police and legal professionals and hospitals to help deliver the wraparound support.

Mayor John Tory, Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit Head Joanna Beaven-Desjardins and sex-trafficking survivor Casandra Diamond, endorsed the agency’s plan at the launch event.

"Covenant House has been helping victims of trafficking for many years now, and this anti-trafficking plan and fundraising campaign will renew efforts to tackle a terrible problem in our city," said Mayor John Tory. “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the community works together.”

Covenant House has been helping victims of trafficking since it opened more than 33 years ago. While homeless youth are at a high risk of being trafficked, Rivers explained, unsuspecting young women and girls are also being lured from malls, school yards and online.