New housing now available for victims of sexual exploitation

Three young girls sitting in the living room of the Avdell Home

TORONTO, November 7, 2018 – Victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking have a new safe refuge with the launch of Covenant House Toronto’s second housing program. The program will provide up to six young women at a time, between the ages of 16 and 24, with stable housing and comprehensive wrap-around support in a newly renovated Toronto home.

This initiative expands on our continuum of care for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking by providing young women leaving difficult situations with a critical stepping stone in their journey. This low barrier program will fill the gap between the support currently provided by the two dedicated crisis beds in Covenant House’s emergency shelter and the transitional housing offered in The Rogers Home by meeting the needs of victims in a supported residence.

“Our goal is to support these young women in a safe, secure and welcoming environment to help them move to the next stage of their journey,” said Bruce Rivers, Executive Director, Covenant House Toronto. “We appreciate everything our private and public partners have done to help us fulfill the increasing need for housing and wrap-around support for our most vulnerable young women.”

This new housing program has come together with support from individuals and foundations, in addition to corporate and government partners. Residents of the new house will have 24/7 access to safety planning, health care, legal support and assistance with mental health and substance use along with education opportunities and job training.

"Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, said Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “This housing is an example of the National Housing Strategy's commitment toward ensuring survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking are able to enjoy a safe and stable environment."

This program is part of Covenant House’s comprehensive plan to combat sex trafficking referred to as its Urban Response Model. This broader plan includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, and a research and evaluation component.

“The Centre is proud to work alongside front-line service providers like Covenant House to connect and support victims and survivors of human trafficking,” said Barbara Gosse, CEO of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. “Supported housing programs like this are crucial in providing a safe, judgement free space for victims to heal.”

Sex trafficking in Canada is highly lucrative and often goes undetected despite increased police enforcement. Some 90 per cent of victims are female and most are Canadian girls as young as 13, and on average 17 from every part of the country and every background. Police estimate that the number of victims could be in the thousands. Last year, Covenant House supported 90 sexually exploited and trafficked victims, which is an 11 per cent increase over the year prior.

A virtual tour of the house can be viewed below: