New safe house donated to help sex trafficking victims in Madera

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Victims of sex trafficking in the North Valley will soon have a safe place to stay, along with access to support services.

Members of the Madera Police Department founded a non-profit called the OLIVE organization about five years ago to help victims of human trafficking. A donor is now giving them a building that will provide safe housing to help women escape life on the streets.

Authorities say the problem of prostitution continues to get worse in communities across the country because of online ads that make it easier than ever to solicit women. That includes in Madera County.

"There's anywhere between 700 and 2000 women online right now that are orderable in this area. That number is staggering," said Madera Police Lt. Daniel Foss.

Foss is the chairman of the OLIVE organization, which connects victims of human trafficking with the resources they need to build better lives. He says the women come from a variety of backgrounds and are often lured by love before they become trapped.

"This isn't something anyone chooses to do. The only people that are doing this, stuck in this industry are just that, they're stuck," he said. "They've been trapped, and to get out is nearly impossible, they need assistance."

That's why a donor is now giving the OLIVE organization a building that will be renovated to include at least four comfortable bedrooms. The location is not being shared for security reasons.

"Getting this safe house donated is huge. The number one thing these girls need is housing. It is pivotal to their survival," said OLIVE Organization president, April Molina.

The non-profit is holding a fundraiser at the San Joaquin Valley Winery Friday night that will help cover the costs of turning the structure into a sanctuary.

"My big push is to make this a home, don't make it feel like an apartment or a hotel. Make it feel like a home, and that's a big push for what we're trying to do here. I want people when they come in to have that sense of security and a fresh start, not a temporary environment until I go to the next step," Foss said.

The OLIVE Organization works directly with law enforcement throughout Madera and Fresno counties as well as other agencies that provide services to sex trafficking victims. The group is always seeking financial support.

Anyone interested in donating you can contact Lt. Foss as the Madera Police Department.
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