Sojourn Landing co-founders Deborah Gates and Natasha Paradeshi have a lot or organizing and setting up to do. The center opened last Monday after months of planning and study. It's the first ever drop-in center for sex trafficking victims in Houston.
"We've seen what can be done and we want to be able to do that in Houston." says Paradeshi.
The center is open to all ages and genders. It offers support for those thinking about or actively trying to get out of human trafficking and it provides everything from toiletries, food, access to computers, counseling, job support and even a place just a simply rest.
Houston is known as a sex trafficking hub. The numbers are difficult to pin down because it's an underground business. There are shelters and organizations trying to help victims, but not like Sojourn Landing.
"The reason that we decided to do this is because there is a need," says Paradeshi. "This is a gap in services for this population. Most places you can't go find and search for an address. We wanted to be available for them."
The center is in an office building at 9894 Bissonnet Suite 605. That's not an accident. The strip between the Southwest Freeway and Beltway 8 is known as a track, meaning a place known for prostitution.
This is a startup non-profit organization relying on donations. The co-founders are also the only staff members and there are only a few volunteers. The center is only open three days each week for now, but eventually it will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Right now, the center needs everything including money and material support.