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Local nonprofit rehabbing Detroit duplex to help survivors of human trafficking

Posted at 2:02 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 18:28:57-05

(WXYZ) — A local non-profit is giving a duplex in Detroit a much-needed and costly renovation while fighting human trafficking.

"We're a survivor-led organization where our mission is to help empower those who've been exploited and trafficked," said Tracey Cooley, executive director of Sparrow Freedom Project based in South Lyon.

The nonprofit aims to give survivors of human trafficking the tools needed to lead an independent life. She says the organization is expanding, preparing to rehab the Detroit duplex.
One side is going to be used for residential housing and the other side is going to be used for emergency shelter.

"One thing I would do is be on call to service human trafficking and sexual assault victims and the one issue with any advocate who does that work knows is that finding safe emergency beds is near impossible. So we want to be in this city and we want to be accessible to the people of the city. We love the city of Detroit," said Chrissy Hemphill, board chairperson for the Sparrow Freedom Project.

But what does a victim of human trafficking look like?

"There is no look to human trafficking," said Edee Franklin of Sanctum House.

Franklin is founder of Sanctum House in Royal Oak, and says the vulnerable are often targets and the perpetrators can be people familiar to the victim. She says trafficking isn't always violent, but can start with enticement leading to coercion and blackmail.

"Human trafficking is men, women, boys, girls, straight, gay. It doesn't matter. Young, old. We picked a population of women, 18 or older because they're kind of a forgotten (group). People think that they're doing this because they've chose this lifestyle. Not because, ya know, I always say 'compliance is not consent. Compliance is survival... often,'" said Franklin.

To learn more about Sanctum House, click here. To learn more about the Sparrow Freedom Project, click here.