Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson and his wife want to give survivors of human trafficking a safe space to rebuild their lives.
The “Survivors for Human Trafficking Residence” is located inside the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light building in downtown Cleveland. Monday afternoon, crews rushed to put on the finishing touches.
The facility has 12 beds in three rooms and will be staffed with a dedicated team 24 hours a day, alongside a detoxification facility.
“We want to provide a safe haven for these young women who have been trafficked, to give them an opportunity to get their lives back in order, to help them any way that we can,” Jackson said.
He and his wife Michelle formulated the plans for the facility last July, saying they have seen the effects of human trafficking firsthand. Remember his jump in Lake Erie? Not only was he making good on his promise — he was also raising money for this effort. The Hue Jackson Foundation gave a quarter-million dollars to fund the project.
In the last year, 35 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in Northeast Ohio, according to the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. They average about 10 new investigations each month.
But Winnie Boylan, with the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, knows there are many more victims out there.
“It is happening here, it’s happening in our suburbs, in our inner cities, but there is no profile to it so we’re trying to make everyone aware with this huge campaign. Pay attention, it is happening here. Help us,” Boylan said.
Beau Hill is the executive director of the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland. He said he couldn’t even put into words how badly a survivor’s facility was needed. Until this point, they had six beds they were using for human trafficking survivors.
“Typically what we see is young ladies, a lot of them from the suburbs, they start getting addicted to drugs and then they start doing things they otherwise would not do to support that drug habit,” Hill said.
The Hue Jackson Survivors of Human Trafficking Residence will hold a grand opening on July 17.