Severe Shelter Beds Shortage for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Antonio* loved his parents. When they got sick, and he needed to provide medical care for them which they could not afford, the Colombian man decided to try and find work in the United States. Two recruiters for a tomato farm in Florida promised him good living conditions, enough money to care for his family–and legal entry into the United States, through the H-2A visa program.

Antonio arrived, ready to work. The living conditions were not good: they were dilapidated and stuffed with other workers. He watched two other employees get beaten for taking a break from their extreme hours in the summer sun. His employer took his passport and visa, and told Antonio he would be deported for questioning him.

Antonio was stuck. Living in violent and scary conditions, he reached out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. But his demographics were working against him. There are no dedicated beds for labor trafficking survivors in the United States, according to our survey and report on the state of shelter beds. There are 153 beds which can be given to either labor or sex trafficking survivors, only 8 beds in the entire United States dedicated to foreign nationals like Antonio and only 2 beds for men.

Most trafficking survivors are left to hope for a bed at a shelter which does not focus on victims of human trafficking–a homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, a run-away youth shelter. This is because there are only 2,173 beds available to human trafficking survivors across the country, and they cannot possibly serve the hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims in the United States.

We were able to connect Antonio to a shelter, and reported his abusive employer to law enforcement, who opened an investigation. But there are not nearly enough beds for the people who need them, and this must change if we are to live in a slave-free world.

 *Antonio’s story is representative of the types of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and is meant for informational purposes only.

21 comments to Severe Shelter Beds Shortage for Survivors of Human Trafficking

  • Nathan Glaesemann

    Would it be possible to set up a program where private citizens could do some form of training and registration to provide a spare room for trafficking victims?

    • Local anti-trafficking organizations sometimes use community placements as an alternative to traditional shelter. I recommend contacting an organization in your community that works with survivors to express your interest and ask if this is a possibility. A preliminary list can be found on our interactive map at, or you can call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888 for additional referrals.

      Morel Jones
      Program Specialist & Supervisor
      National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

  • PennyKay Hoeflinger

    I want you to know that I am working hard in buying a farm in Kearneysville, WV so that there will be three beds for 3 women to come and live. I will have the farm in operation by June of 2013. Please let me know what I need to do so that the farm may be used by your organization.

    • Thanks for letting us know! Please call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888 to request that your organization be added to our national referral database.

      Morel Jones
      Program Specialist & Supervisor
      National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

    • Cassidhe Hart

      I’m very interested in the kind of house you are working towards – either for starting something similar or joining an existing establishment. I’d love to talk with you about your process – what would be the best way for us to make contact?

  • Betty Welborn

    Is there a shelter in South Carolina? If so, how many beds?

    • Though this survey did not find any beds exclusive to human trafficking survivors in South Carolina, there are shelters serving other populations in this state that trafficking survivors may access. For shelter referrals in South Carolina, please call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888. Please note that the NHTRC does not track the number of beds in the shelters that were not included in this survey.

      Morel Jones
      Program Specialist & Supervisor
      National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

      • Jennifer S

        I am putting together an event in south carolina and working on staff with an organization to raise awareness and funds for a safe house. In my sponsor letter, I shared that as of today there are not any safe houses in south carolina. Is this incorrect information to place in the letter?

    • Hi Betty,

      I am the founder of a new non profit working towards opening a shelter among many other endeavors in SC. You can check out our website for more info. We are currently working on our 501(c)3 and policies and procedures so we are not quite ready to open a shelter or provide services but know it is in the works. We do currently provide CE credits for medical providers to take our training, education for the community, prevention education for youth, and outreach to women in the sex industry.


  • Ruth Buckels

    I live in Iowa. We have no beds dedicated to survivors. My adopted daughter is a survivor and came to me under Iowa’s foster care system. I adopted her when she turned 18. I would like to know what the requirements are to have beds designated? Have specialty foster homes been considered?

    • A full explanation of how Polaris Project defined and categorized the shelter beds for human trafficking survivors is available in the report, which you can access by clicking on the links above. Page 2 of the report defines these beds in the following way:

      “For the purposes of this survey, a shelter bed refers to any bed that is available for at least one overnight stay and affiliated in some way with a non-governmental, non-profit organization that serves human trafficking survivors, exclusively or through a human trafficking-specific program or funding stream. The organizations may provide shelter in house or through a formal partnership with another shelter facility. In some cases, a shelter bed may be located outside of a traditional shelter facility, provided that the primary organization maintains a formal partnership with the entity that manages the bed.”

      If you have additional questions, feel free to call us at 1-888-373-7888.

      Morel Jones
      Program Specialist & Supervisor
      National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

  • [...] survivors, only 8 beds in the entire United States dedicated to foreign nationals … Read more By Stolen Youth on November 5, 2012   /   Stolen Youth   / [...]

  • [...] “Severe Shelter Beds Shortage for Survivors of Human Trafficking,” The Polaris Project [...]

  • [...] “Severe Shelter Beds Shortage for Survivors of Human Trafficking,” The Polaris Project [...]

  • [...] How can you help? Consider making a contribution to an organization that helps trafficked people or volunteer your time at a shelter near you, which you can easily find with Polaris’ Interactive Map! [...]

  • Beth


    Thanks very much for conducting such a useful study in the area of human trafficking survivor services.

    It’s quite timely for me as over the past year, I’d begun to try to look into the possibility/need for opening a shelter for human trafficking survivors that were male and survivors of labor trafficking since I had noted a gap in services for that while working at a local agency.

    I definitely plan to buy the Housing Toolkit by Katherine Chon that is recommended, but I was wondering if it would be possible to have a short meeting with anyone at Polaris or NHTRC to get some additional pointers on getting a shelter going/funding etc.?

    Thanks very much.

  • Yvonne Adcock

    Hello my name is Yvonne Adcock and I am a Survivor of Prostitution and Human Trafficking myself. I was trafficked by my mother and then by a man I married whom I thought loved me. I was in the prostitution lifestyle for 23 years before God delivered me at the age of 35. I now live n Mississippi and know God has called me to open a home for women escaping the life of prostitution, addiction and human- trafficking. I love these women and I understand them. I know the difficulties they will face on a day to day basis learning how to live and who they truly are in Jesus. I have been free from my bondage for ten years now and have just embarked on my journey of discovery to help the others who are suffering as I was, I do love them so. Through me God is forming Branching The Vine Ministries Inc. and we will have a home here in Mississippi called Gods Garden. A safe place full of love, hope, and understanding founded on the word of God. Where no woman will be judged but where Jesus can whoo her into his everlasting arms. I am eager and full of anticipation as God has given me this vision and his promise to see it to fruition.

  • We operate a Regional Safe Home located in St. Louis, MO for domestic victims of sex trafficking. Our home has 11 beds for girls age 18-24 years old (or as young as 15 with parental consent). We offer a full rehabilitation program. Visit for more info.

    • Jessica Dickinson Goodman, Online Outreach Specialist

      Jennifer, if you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, if you haven’t already, to connect about receiving referrals: 1-888-373-7888. Thank you for your work.

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