where is your safe space?
Recently, a program participant was having a challenging day at work, and she unexpectedly walked out the door. She called later to apologize for leaving, but explained, “I just needed to get home with my dog” — her safe place.
Individuals who have experienced sex trafficking need access to affordable, independent housing. Safe, supportive housing helps survivors avoid re-victimization as they reintegrate into the community. The challenge is that there is a severe lack of affordable housing in our community, as is the problem nationwide. In fact, there are only 34 available and affordable units in Central Ohio for every 100 extremely low income households.
At Freedom, we’ve been facing the safe housing challenge in our work with survivors for many years. In 2017, we approached a landlord who agreed to bypass barriers (like criminal records) and rent to women in our program. In this complex of eight apartments, five of the units were leased by individuals in our Butterfly Program — a continuum of care program designed to build long-term stability for survivors. What organically emerged was a beautiful community of support, connection and accountability. The residents referred to it as “Recovery Village.” Since then, we’ve been searching for an opportunity to replicate this model.
Fast forward to 2023. On behalf of the Freedom a la Cart Board of Directors and staff, we are excited to announce the launch of our new housing program.
That’s right! We recently entered a partnership with Affordable Columbus Housing, LLC. Affordable Columbus will provide and manage a 72 unit, one- and two-bedroom complex on Columbus’ east side. These units are suitable for individuals both with or without children. Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) has committed project-based vouchers to subsidize rent. Freedom a la Cart will provide tenant referrals from our program participants. We will then support those tenants with community connection, workforce development, wraparound services, and resource management.
This supportive housing opportunity will provide survivors the ability to continue their healing through ongoing social, emotional, and therapeutic support. They’ll experience more freedom and autonomy than in previous stages of the continuum of care, all while pursuing their educational and/or vocational goals.
Through this collaborative program, our goal is for tenants to maintain housing stability and increase personal self-sufficiency — giving each individual a safe place to call home!
After many years of searching for a solution, we’re incredibly grateful to be able to provide this housing opportunity to our program participants. We look forward to sharing program updates and progress in the months ahead!