We talk frequently and insistently about homes within Uffizi. For veterans, women and men on the streets of Santa Barbara County, and now for survivors of sexual exploitation. Jeff is easily identifiable in his white tee — it reads, “Housing Works” in black, bold letters.
Why does housing work?
We could talk, read, and write for days on end about this very question, delving into countless valuable resources and hosting innumerable conversations. However, on a foundational level, I believe housing signifies dignity, and dignity allows for hope. We can feel in our guts how important hope is to humanity. If we offer housing, we offer hope that despite a disjointed, potentially painful past, there is space to gather our belongings and experiences and traumas and dreams, spread them around us on our carpets, and begin putting things away.
The need for housing for survivors of trafficking is clearly demonstrated by the fact that we have no placements specifically for survivors of sexual exploitation in Santa Barbara County, for youth or adults. Jeff and I have begun working with RISE (Resiliency Interventions for Sexual Exploitation) in an effort to create housing solutions for survivors and organize partners that can help us coordinate those solutions. I’m thrilled that the walls and windows of this vision are finally taking shape, and we hope to work with you and your churches to make it happen.
Let’s be open to offering human beings a space: space for showers and dinners, for friendship and hobbies, undoubtedly also for mistakes and selfishness and impulsivity, but a space that opens wide the doors to wellness.