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Alameda County teams up with Catholic Charities to battle child trafficking

Organizations working together to provide 'safe, secure' housing where victims can recover

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley joined Catholic Bishop Michael C. Barber and Chuck Fernandez, chief executive of Catholic Charities of the East Bay Tuesday on a new initiative to create homes for child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Alameda County is one of the nation's high-intensity locations of child sex trafficking.

The new partnership between the county and the Catholic Church is aimed at providing safe and secure housing for young victims to recover, heal and thrive, O'Malley said.

"I am pleased to announce that we are currently in advanced talks about the location of our first safe house in the East Bay," Fernandez said.

"However, given the enormity of the problem, we know that one house will not be sufficient," he added. "Our vision is to provide a series of safe houses and independent living facilities, which will be a place of healing, hope and dignity for the vulnerable girls who fall prey to traffickers."

O'Malley added: "Children who are the victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking are in vital need of safe and secure housing. The lack of such housing in our community and across the state is of grave concern. Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bishop Barber are stepping up to meet the basic needs of young women who have been trafficked.

"I am eternally grateful to Bishop Barber and Catholic Charities for making this mission a priority as part of the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. I am certain these efforts will become a model for all communities to work together to combat human trafficking."

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