Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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DA O’Malley Announces Partnership to Provide Housing to Victims of Trafficking

Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and Catholic Charities of the East Bay to Partner in Creating Safe Homes for Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation

OAKLAND, CA – Today, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley joined Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Chuck Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the East Bay, to announce a new initiative to create homes for child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Alameda County is one of the nation’s high intensity locations of child sex trafficking. In an effort to battle this criminal enterprise, the ground-breaking partnership will provide safe and secure housing for the young victims to recover, heal and thrive.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said, “Children who are the victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking are in vital need of safe and secure housing. The lack of such housing in our community and across the state is of grave concern. Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bishop Barber are stepping up to meet the basic needs of young women who have been trafficked.

L-R: Bishop Michael C. Barber (SJ), Chuck Fernandez (Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the East Bay), Caitlin Meyer (representing US Senator Dianne Feinstein), DA Nancy E. O'Malley, Lieutenant Kevin Wiley (OPD) and Deputy Chief David Downing (OPD).

“The housing that will be created by Catholic Charities will provide the stability, support, and love that has been absent in the lives of trafficked youth. I am eternally grateful to Bishop Barber and Catholic Charities for making this mission a priority as part of the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. I am certain these efforts will become a model for all communities to work together to combat human trafficking.

“To effectively put an end to this criminal enterprise, we must provide safe places for the young victims to live while they heal, recover and rebuild their lives, while regaining their sense of dignity and security. These homes will set a path for their future to be as bright as we hope for all of our children,” said DA O’Malley.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that we are currently in advanced talks about the location of our first safe house in the East Bay,” stated Mr Fernandez.

“However, given the enormity of the problem, we know that one house will not be sufficient. Our vision is to provide a series of safe houses and independent living facilities, which will be a place of healing, hope and dignity for the vulnerable girls who fall prey to traffickers.”

As the Diocese of Oakland celebrates the beginning of the Jubilee Year, Bishop Barber declared this to be the Diocesan ‘Act of Mercy’. “Pope Francis has called upon us to contemplate the mercy that God has shown all of us, and then go forth to offer this mercy to those in need,” explained Bishop Barber.

“It is imperative that the Church take the lead in building an awareness of this situation, and offer victims a safe place to rediscover their dignity and self-worth. As we contemplate ‘acts of mercy’ as a diocese, I cannot think of a more vulnerable, needy group to serve.”

“Catholic Charities is seeking to partner with agencies with expertise in rescuing victims of trafficking in order to develop best practices for our programs. We are also looking for other local partnerships,” continued Mr Fernandez.

“We hope to mobilize the projected 700,000 Catholics in the East Bay so that together, we can shine a light on the epidemic of human trafficking. Together, we can be the ‘hand of hope’.”

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Posted on Dec 8, 2015