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Tharros Place, a shelter that provides support for survivors of human trafficking, is set to receive a massive grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The nonprofit has been awarded $250,000 which will be dispersed annually over the next three years to build a 12-bed facility exclusively for young female victims of human trafficking, NPR news affiliate GPB reported.

According to the report, the critical facility is currently being developed in Savannah’s Chatham County district. Tharros Place will provide shelter to young girls between the ages of 11 and 17 as they begin transitioning back to a life free from abuse.

“The Department of Justice’s investment in this project recognizes the need — the dire need — in our community for a residential facility for minor victims of human trafficking,” said Tharros Place executive director Julie Wade in a statement. “It’s also an economic investment in our community, as we will employ up to 30 people to man our facility 24/7, 365 with at least two staff members on at all times.”

In addition to shelter, Tharros Place provides survivors of human trafficking with trauma-informed care, restorative treatment, and customized success plans that help them on the road to a better future, the nonprofit’s website notes.

“Each young person will have their own room,” Wade said of the facility’s amenities. “We are in partnership with [Savannah College of Art and Design] and IKEA to design and decorate and furnish our facility so we can make it bright and inspiring for our young people who come in so that they can deal with the trauma that they have experienced and they can gain life skills and education and counseling services to returning to a life of wellbeing, confidence, and independence.”

The new facility will open sometime in the summer of 2023.


Human trafficking cases are on the rise

Tharros Place’s shelter comes at a crucial time. Human trafficking cases in Georgia have been on the rise. Between 2021 and 2020, nearly 2,187 cases were reported by the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the Peach state. Wade believes the uptick is connected to Savannah’s busy tourism industry and poverty in the city.

“Most of these young people are being trafficked in exchange for, frankly, basic needs,” Wade explained. “And so you might have a young person who’s 14 years old, she thinks she has a boyfriend who is 30 years old who is allowing her to sleep on the sofa and maybe provide basic needs. In exchange, she is providing sex to this person and his network, whether it’s friends or business folks,” she added.


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