BEST now has a way to help survivors of human trafficking escape their traffickers during the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the Wyndham Rewards program, individual rewards members and corporate businesses with travel rewards points can now donate points to BEST to support survivors in need. Simply visit the Wyndham Rewards charity page to donate points to help provide safe, emergency housing for human trafficking survivors.
The urgent need for human trafficking victims is for immediate safe housing that will allow them to flee their traffickers. But the need for emergency housing is far greater than what social service agencies have to give.
“We don’t have enough opportunities for people to have an immediate safe place to stay,” explains Jacquelynn Loos, the Community Advocate Supervisor for Real Escape for the Sex Trade (REST), one of BEST’s social service agency partners. “When someone contacts us and needs a safe place to stay, we have to move fast on those things. If we don’t have an immediate place for them to go, it can be a missed opportunity, and we often have a hard time tracking them down once a place for housing opens up.”
Loos explains that if human trafficking survivors cannot find a safe place to stay with a social service agency, they go elsewhere, and that’s often to unsafe places like back to their traffickers, a homeless encampment, staying with a sex buyer, or they ride the bus all day—just to have a driver watching over them because they have nowhere else to go.
In 2019, REST had 174 requests for emergency housing assistance. Through their seven-bed emergency shelter, their advocates, and a housing specialist connecting survivors to other emergency housing resources, they were able to meet 62 of those requests. Unfortunately, 112 requests had to go unmet because there are simply not enough emergency housing solutions for the number of survivors in need. And REST is just one of the numerous agencies who receive requests for emergency housing from human trafficking survivors.
Having safe temporary housing is critical when a victim decides to escape their trafficker. That’s why BEST is pleased to be selected as one of the charities of choice for the Wyndham Rewards program. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest hotel franchising company with approximately 9,300 hotels in 90 countries, and the 83 million members of Wyndham Rewards earn a guaranteed 1,000 points with every qualified stay. They may redeem points for a wide-range of rewards including a free night or they can donate to charity. Members can donate to 14 different charities, and BEST is now one of Wyndham’s charity recipients.
BEST will use the rewards points received from this program to help survivors of human trafficking who need emergency housing through our social service agency partners like REST. Since Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has hotel locations in so many communities, survivors using BEST’s rewards donations will have options to help them stay in their neighborhood of choice.
The need for donated hotel rooms is greater now more than ever with the social distancing required in the COVID-19 pandemic. Going to a crowded shelter may not be the best solution for survivors who are worried about contracting the virus. And traffickers are using the current conditions to cultivate more fear—by threatening to throw victims out on the street and withholding food, money, and medical aid to maintain control and discourage victims from leaving.
Now that BEST is part of the Wyndham Rewards program—safe, clean hotel rooms can now offer emergency housing until agencies are able to find another transitional housing solution.