Just last month, communities across the nation recognized Human Trafficking Awareness Month and brought information to their neighborhoods about this terrible crime. Today I was proud to recognize two organizations within my District that understand human trafficking as a local issue and are bringing information and assistance to Sun Valley and Van Nuys residents every day of the year.
In the Sixth District, Sex Trafficking is a personal issue. Children are brought through Los Angeles and into our neighborhoods where they are trained, trafficked, and then forced to work as prostitutes until they can escape “the life.”
But residents in Van Nuys and Sun Valley decided to take action in their own hands. In Van Nuys, they formed Groups Against Street Prostitution or GASP while residents in Sun Valley formed the Coalition Against Human Trafficking or CAHT to address the issue. These organizations became local institutions and offered residents resources and a channel to speak to local officials about the problem. So when I came to office, my first meetings were with leaders of GASP and CAHT and today, I’m proud to welcome these groups to Council.
Founded and Co-Chaired by Jesse Torrero and Cindy Sower, CAHT is fighting against human trafficking around the Lankershim corridor. Their members are active in many local organizations including the Foothill Division CPAB. CAHT is the main contact for the Sun Valley and East Valley community to report human trafficking cases. Between Jesse and Cindy’s leadership and Michael, Maria, Lynn, and Jon’s dedication, CAHT is going above and beyond to raise awareness and get rid of pimps and johns for once and for all.
Similarly, GASP was formed when longtime Van Nuys residents, Mr. and Mrs. Schultz, saw firsthand how Sepulveda had deteriorated. They began speaking with their neighbors and formed an informal group with 4 directors. Through their discussions, they decided to work with other groups that are looking for solutions to this crime. Today, I’m proud that GASP is working hand in hand with my office and local law enforcement to take back their neighborhoods.
It’s wonderful to recognize and present groups that are working so hard in the District such as CAHT and GASP for their work to make the Sixth District much safer.