Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $600,000)
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), as lead agency, will bring partners together to initiate the RISE Above project (RAP) to provide safe housing and support services to victims of human trafficking. The project will enhance physical and psychological safety through supportive transitional housing and short-term housing assistance and help victims increase their sense of well-being through linkage to an array of wrap-around support services.
The lead partner for RISE Above is Restoring Identities after Sexual Exploitation (RISE), a private non-profit providing long-term residence where girls receive comprehensive, individualized services and mentoring to permanently escape the world of the sex trade and become strong independent, responsible adults. RISE is the only provider of housing services to focus on young victims of human trafficking in Oklahoma exclusively. Other key partners are the Oklahoma Coalition Against Human Trafficking, The Red Cord, Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, et al., and our network of community mental health centers with extensive history of providing trauma-informed services. All partners will be part of an advisory council and serve as referring agencies; many are experts in educating on human trafficking and have offered training support to enhance this project.
The primary mission is to provide safe housing with connections to trauma-informed, client-centered services to victims of human trafficking. Key outcomes include improving victim social and emotional well-being by connecting them to safe, stable housing and a wide variety of support services; finding or enhancing existing, permanent connections and natural supports to lead healthy, successful lives in the community; increasing self-sufficiency by developing employment skills; providing linkages to safe, affordable permanent housing; and increasing collaboration and providing training for all partners and stakeholders to correctly identify and work with victims through a trauma-informed approach and coordinated referral system.
RISE Above project has statewide support to address gaps in housing and support services for these vulnerable young Oklahomans. RAP will impact Oklahoma's entire state and provide access to transitional housing and short-term rental assistance in 75 of 77 counties. Over the lifespan of this project, a minimum of 75 individuals will be served.