Council to consider $250,000 to reduce prostitution
The City Council will consider reversing a cut in the current budget and increasing funding for services to reduce prostitution in Portland.
On Wednesday the council will consider spending $250,000 in general fund dollars on several programs that provide counseling and other support services to young victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The funding request comes five months after a city budget took effect that cut such funding by $117,000.
The reversal would be funded with surplus dollars that have become available since the council approved the previous budget. It included numerous cuts recommended by Mayor Charlie Hales to close a projected shortfall in general fund dollars because of the recession.
The funding request was submitted by Commission Amanda Fritz in response to several studies that show prostitution is a serious problem in Portland. According to the ordinance submitted by Fritz:
A Portland State University study commission by Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall found that at least 469 children were exploited as commercial sex workers in Portland between 2009 and 2013.
Twenty-seven percent of the exploited children were African-American, a percentage five times greater than the percentage of African-Americans in Multnomah County.
Portland has received national attention as a hub for human trafficking because a disproportionate number of women, men and transgendered individuals over the age 18 are forced into prostitution.
Portland was ranked second in the nation in rescued child survivors of human trafficking, according to a 2010 study highlighted on 60 minutes.
Service providers report that many victims are not receiving any services that could transition them out of their situations.
The ordinance requests $250,000 for a number of non-profit service providers, including New Options for Women, the Sexual Assault Resource Center, Janus Youth Programs, and GirlStrength. Services will include counseling, referrals for treatment and housing, and self-defense training.