San Francisco receives $9.3M state grant to combat human trafficking

It's being deemed a hub for human trafficking where runaways and homeless children are targeted.

Now the city of San Francisco is stepping up prevention efforts thanks to a more than $9 million grant.

"In 2017 in San Francisco, we had over 300 reported cases from young people of sexual exploitation and in most cases they were women of color and women from our LGBTQ community and what that tells me is we have more work to do," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Mayor Breed presented the startling statistics on the city's human trafficking problem, as she announced a new grant from the California department of social services.

The mayor says predators are targeting homeless youth and runaways.

"We have to make sure that there is an alternative and this $9.3 million grant provides us with an opportunity to provide supportive services, to provide housing, to track and find out what is going on and what we can do better to prevent it from happening in the first place, for prevention and early intervention to combat trafficking," said Breed.

Eleven community partners are in this together, including Freedom Forward.

They're building a drop in center where youth can access services all under one roof.

Freedom Forward provided KTVU with a blueprint to give us an idea of what that space would look like.

It will include showers, washer and dryer, open meeting space, an art gallery and even childcare.

It will all be designed by youth consultants they plan to hire.

"For those people who are trafficked it's going to provide them with a safety net," said Max Szabo, San Francisco District Attorney spokesman.

Szabo says these services will help their office when it comes to accountability and tracking down these offenders.

"If someone is in a place of safety, there's actually an opportunity for that victim to come forward, give them a voice and to ensure that that trafficker is held accountable," said Szabo.

He says this grant has come at a time when trafficking is prevalent.

They're currently wrapping up an investigation involving a young girl who was allegedly coerced.

"I can tell you that it's a 13-year-old victim and nearly 40-year-old male, and we'll be investigating further to find out if this young woman was trafficked," said Szabo.

The services through this grant will be available winter of 2019.