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Lawmakers consider bill to fund an emergency sex trafficking shelter for minors

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The House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Homelessness passed a bill to build emergency shelters for minors who are victims of sex trafficking.

HB1700 would provide funding for nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations to operate sex trafficking emergency shelter for children during the next fiscal year.

Hawaiʻi Youth Services Network Executive Director Judith Clark supports the bill, but testified that a new shelter is not necessary.

"Providing longer term stable funding for the existing shelter is a more critical need than establishing a new shelter," Clark said. "If more beds are needed, adding capacity to an existing program is more cost effective than starting a new one.

"I would add that the potential for providing host homes or emergency foster homes on neighbor islands for victims is something that we might want to consider," explained Clark.

Hale Kipa’s Hale Lanipōlua Assessment Center on O‘ahu is the only emergency shelter in the state for minors who are victims of sex trafficking.

HB1700 will be discussed with two other committees before moving to a second hearing.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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