• Valerie Pensworth
After Portland ranked last year as the second largest hub of human trafficking in the nation, politicians and anti-prostitution advocates worked to try and secure funds to build a shelter that can help the city's victims break out of their vicious situation. Just last week, Senator Ron Wyden's office announced his office has earmarked $900,000 for the Portland YWCA to build a human trafficking shelter for victims under age 18 in Portland by the end of 2011.

This kind of trafficking-specific shelter would be entirely new to Portland and, in fact, there are currently only three such shelters on the whole west coast. Senator Wyden first pitched the idea for the shelter last winter as part of what he described as a federal bill that would "beat the pimps".

However, YWCA Executive Director Eric Brown notes that $900,000 is not enough to sustain the shelter long-term. Brown's planning committee for the project has calculated they need to raise between $3—5 million in order to keep the shelter running for years to come. Details regarding the number of beds in the shelter and what types of programs and services they will provide are still up in the air.

“This is only going to be successful with community support,” Brown says. “This has been an issue that’s not really talked about because it’s something that’s hard for people to think about. But that’s something we need to change because these are young girls that need help.”