Vida Home

FAIR Girls’ Vida Home is the only safe home that exclusively serves young women survivors of sex trafficking and labor trafficking aged 18 to 26 in the metro Washington, D.C. area. Up to 50 survivors walk thru our Vida Home doors each year. While over 90% of the girls we serve at FAIR Girls are U.S. citizens, we also serve young women from as far away as Serbia, Nigeria, El Salvador, and Jamaica.

INSPIRATION FOR THE VIDA HOME

A chance meeting one night inside a dark Serbian brothel brought 14-year-old sex trafficking victim, Vida, and FAIR Girls Executive Director, Andrea, together. Vida’s life as a homeless and trafficked teenage girl illuminated the desperate need for a restorative home that would stop the cycle of exploitation and violence in her life. It is in her honor that the Vida Home began. As FAIR Girls’ grew in serve hundreds of American girls, the most glaring need for a safe and specially designed home for young women survivors of trafficking emerged. Just like Vida, they chances to thrive were greatly diminished if they did not have a safe place to begin their path toward recovery.

THE VIDA HOME IS A LEADERSHIP HOME

Our Vida Home is more then a shelter, it is a leadership home where up to 6 young women at a time receive access to 24/7 care including a warm bed, access to counseling and survivor support groups, personal growth and leadership skills training, meals and basic necessities, and access to safe transportation to and from work, school, and our drop in center. Each young woman can stay up to 90 days while we work with her to find long-term housing.

Our team of two overnight counselors, two case managers, clinical programs director, executive director, and volunteers serve these incredibly brave but often marginalized young women every day. Each young woman can stay up to 90 days while we work with her to find long-term housing. Our team of two overnight counselors, two case managers, clinical programs director, executive director, and volunteers serve these incredibly brave but often marginalized young women every day.

FAIR Girls’ approach is one of depth and commitment. Each survivor has a personal case manager who works daily with her to ensure she meets her goals and stays safe. During the week, Vida Home residents join FAIR Girls at our drop in center to attend survivor support group, leadership workshops, well being workshops, art therapy, and job finding support. Whether it is 3PM or 3AM, one of FAIR Girls staff is always on call to support every “FAIR girl” who needs our care.

WHY DO SURVIVORS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEED SPECIALIZED HOUSING?

Young women housed in the FAIR Girls apartment are currently 58% more likely to exit commercial sexual exploitation and remain disengaged with their perpetrator when compared with those referred to non-specialized housing services through community partners. Without this critical resource, victims recovered by law enforcement entities are likely to be incarcerated and are often subsequently re-victimized and traumatized in prison settings until shelter beds become available. FAIR Girls partners in law enforcement cite feeling more comfortable intervening in known human trafficking rings with knowledge that available housing resources are now available for victims. Without these specialized housing services, interventions are less likely to occur and/or be effective for this population and victims are more likely to be incarcerated and re-traumatized in an effort to remove them from the immediate danger of street-based crime.

VIDA HOME SUCCESS STORIES

Chelsea is a 20 year old D.C. native whose trafficking began at 14 when she was introduced to a pimp by her cousin. Chelsea thought they were falling in love, but after gaining her trust, her trafficker began selling in her hotels across the D.C. area using online advertising sites and the streets. At 16, Chelsea was arrested for solicitation and sentenced to 2 years in a juvenile facility. At 18, she has no job and a GED. Her trafficker found her and soon she was being sold again. At 20, Chelsea finally called 911 and the police called FAIR Girls. After spending three months in FAIR Girls’ Vida Home, Chelsea now is an assistant teacher aid at a local high school and planning to go to college. Her dream is to become a teacher and have a family.

 

Carrie is a 19 year old high school graduate whose exploitation began when her family member sold her to a pimp. After the death of her younger sibling, Carrie lived in foster group homes. After a month of being sold online, Carrie was taken from the Midwest to Washington, D.C. where she was helpless and alone. One night on the streets, she saw a police car and ran toward it. After her rescue and her family member’s arrest, she moved into FAIR Girls’ Vida Home. At FAIR Girls, Carrie received daily access to supportive counseling, crisis support, and began to rebuild her life. With a high school diploma and a new resume and job training, Carrie was able to move back to her home state where she is now living with a distant relative and working in merchandizing while applying to college.

 

Maria is a 19 year old Guatemalan American young woman whose family trafficked her into forced labor. Like many unaccompanied minors in America, Maria did not speak English and did not know her rights to an education or protection by the police. She suffered in silence while she worked 20 hour days in hotels and garment districts while being sexually abused by the gang who controlled her. Maria escaped her traffickers in Baltimore and was referred by Homeland Security after they learned of her situation. Maria resided in FAIR Girls Vida Home apartment for three months while becoming enrolled in local GED and English classes. She has now obtained her legal status as a trafficking survivor and is working in the travel industry. She loves making jewelry, dancing salsa, and cooking. Her dream is to some day return to Guatemala and start a bed and breakfast on the beach.

fairgirlsadminVida Home