Albuquerque is known for being a large city with small town values. Our sense of community and the way our city comes together when injustice strikes speaks volumes about who we are as citizens.
New Mexico Dream Center is concerned with two fundamental injustices that are taking place in our city.
• Demand for sex with children is steady and is profitable •
Pimps (a.k.a. traffickers) prey on vulnerable youth and groom their victims to enter “the life” where they have to sell sexual services for the profit of their trafficker. They are manipulated and abused—physically, mentally, and emotionally. In addition, the technological advances we’ve experienced in cell phones and on the internet have facilitated the demand for child sex trafficking. These technologies can rapidly connect buyers of commercial sex with trafficking victims while simultaneously distancing the perpetrator from criminal transactions.
• It is estimated that 5,000 homeless youth exist in the Albuquerque Metro Area •
One-fifth of homeless youth are victims of human trafficking, according to new studies. Homeless young adults were interviewed between February 2014 and March 2017, about 20% reported being trafficked for sex, labor, or both. The majority, 15%, were trafficked for sex, 7.4% were trafficked for labor, and 3% were trafficked for both.
THIS IS INJUSTICE.
Albuquerque, how will you respond? Let’s pick a fight with injustice!
NM DREAMCENTER’S Vision
Find a need, fill a need.
Albuquerque has a huge gaping hole in services for homeless youth and trafficked minor children. Our belief is that we are called to fill in the gaps in services, not recreate a program that already exists. Therefore we will stand in the gap for these children and develop and support them as we work on ensuring that these gaps get filled and stay that way.
Today, across the world, there are over 40 million people who are living in some form of modern day slavery. Women and young girls account for 71% of all modern day slavery victims. Children make up 25% and account for 10 million of all victims of slavery worldwide. Some of these children live in your state, your town, and on your street.
Yes, Albuquerque, even here.
Despite these alarming facts, our state received a C on our report card from the Shared Hope, Protected Innocence Challenge. This is an annual data analysis conducted across the United States Each year. According to this report our laws, services, and prevention strategies DO NOT MEASURE UP!
The New Mexico Dream Center is a part of the New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force. We are committed to fighting human trafficking in our state and providing services to the young people who have survived. In 2019 law enforcement identified 26 new human trafficking survivors and local service providers identified an additional 104. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Human trafficking is often under-reported and victims are difficult to identify. Traffickers target our most vulnerable: young people who run away from home or “throwaway” youth who have been forced to leave their place of residence with no option for alternative care. These youth who often end up homeless are forced into sexual slavery and bought and sold like property.
The average number of victimized youth continues to grow annually, as the demand for young people to provide sex acts thrives. This is a statewide emergency. The New Mexico Dream Center believes that is the responsibility of every citizen to be a part of the solution to eradicate not only the crime of Human Trafficking, but also combat the demand for child victims and provide justice for survivors.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reported a 27% increase of homlessness in Albuquerque. This was the largest increase in the nation. New Mexico Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2017-2018 school year shows that an estimated 10,683 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the year.
Albuquerque has 75 beds for homeless youth. These beds provides shelter for 7% of homeless youth, leaving 93% under-served and without shelter. With nowhere to go and limited options, many youth are left with choices that damage their health, hope, and overall well-being.
Barrier 1 – Shelter Insecurity:
While Albuquerque boasts several homeless shelters, there are only two homeless youth shelters with fewer than 75 beds between the two. A young person who does not have a safe place to sleep has to find other options, all of which are dangerous!
Barrier 2 – Food Insecurity:
An adult experiencing homelessness can go to the local Income Support office and apply for food stamps, but a youth experiencing homelessness cannot. When the youth needs food, they are in a precarious position to try and find a way to meet that need.
Barrier 3 – Job Insecurity:
A homeless youth does not have an address to put down on a job application. They are unlikely to drive, so transportation is a challenge every day. They don’t have a safe place to sleep, so keeping up with a daily schedule is difficult. How do they stay clean with no bathing facilities? They do not have an income source to purchase needed uniform items. All of these realities compound into the inability to get and keep a job.
These barriers create in the young person experiencing homelessness an extreme vulnerability that is taken advantage of by traffickers. The traffickers can offset all of the insecurities and therefore the youth can feel like there isn’t any other option. Two national statistics around youth homelessness as an entryway into human trafficking need our attention – 1) 48% of homeless youth reported that shelter was the main thing they traded sex for and 2) 1 in 5 youth will end up being trafficked.
The Harbour is the homeless adolescent drop-in center program for the New Mexico Dream Center. This innovative program is the very first drop-in center of its kind for the city of Albuquerque and is a vital resource for the more than 5000 teens who are homeless and at risk of exploitation in our city.
The Harbour is strategically located with easy access for teens and offers the following resources:
- Laundry facilities
- Survival gear
- Artistic self expression
- Assistance with accessing community physical and mental health resources
- Safe place to be