Enforcing Rules on Motels to Prevent Human Trafficking

(Left to Right) Compton Mayor Aja Brown, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Saving Innocence Executive Director Kim Biddle after testimony on March 3, 2015.

 

Motels that receive Los Angeles County vouchers to house homeless people must comply with new rules to prevent the trafficking of women and children on their premises.

Prompted by reports of sex trafficking and other crimes occurring at many motels around the county, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the motion, co-authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe, which will require motel owners to sign a contract stating that they will not participate in or allow any form of sex trafficking to take place in their facilities. In addition, they must hang a poster in a visible place with hotline information to report a possible human trafficking incident and for victims to receive help; allow law enforcement to check guest registries at-will and take a training session on sex trafficking provided by the County.

“There are few more disturbing issues than the buying and selling of children for sex. Unfortunately, much of this activity occurs in motels and hotels. If motels are going to receive a county voucher, they must fulfill their end of the contract,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We simply cannot and will not turn a blind eye.”

Added Supervisor Knabe, “I encourage those hotel operators that receive County housing vouchers to join us in the fight against the trafficking of young girls. I look forward to continued discussions as to how we can reach this goal.”

Last year, Los Angeles County spent nearly $4 million in vouchers for 52 motels. District Attorney Jackie Lacey testified at the hearing and noted that her office has aggressively pursued cases against traffickers and has sought to help victims through a diversion program.

“This motion will assist law enforcement officials looking for kids who are being enslaved by sex traffickers,” she said. “Signs posted in lobbies may also encourage enslaved minors or good Samaritans and bystanders to call the hotline to seek help and rescue these kids.”

Compton Mayor Aja Brown also testified adding, “Gangs look at children as merchandise. It is imperative that we take a stand collectively… against modern day slavery.”

Kim Biddle, executive director of Saving Innocence, a non-profit that offers services to victims of trafficking, also testified. She said that 100 percent of the children in her care had been abused and held against their will at hotels or motels across the county.

“These hotels are truly being used to harbor trafficking victims… for intensive commercial exploitation and rape,” she said. “It should be a high priority to take a look at the accountability of these motels and hotels, especially if the county is in contract with them or awarding them any kind of funding and support.”

The Department of Public Social Services, which issues the vouchers, will compile a report and bring it back to the Board for review next month. It should include other housing options and ways of enforcing the contract in cooperation with law enforcement and victim service providers.

Star Housing Apartments Offers New Life on Skid Row

Jude Burns stood in awe among the hundreds of people who turned out recently to celebrate the opening of the Star Apartments, a 100 unit supportive housing site for the homeless. Once homeless, bereft after the death of his only son and severely disabled, Burns got a new lease on life when he was given a place to live at the Star Apartments.  Finding a home and stability gave him the will to live.

“It’s wonderful.  Everything is here- the kitchen, the patio, the counselors. I have a new refrigerator and bed.   I’ve been talking to a therapist here to help me with the loss of my son,” Burns said.  “Without this place I don’t know where I would be.  The people here are family.  We all came from different walks of life, have different stories and just fell on hard times.”

At the celebration, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose office invested $400,000 into the project, applauded the innovative and collaborative partnerships between private and public organizations to create Star Apartments, who frequently use emergency healthcare services such as hospitals and urgent carecenters.

“Everyone deserves to live in housing that it safe and affordable,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.  “Residents here at Star not only have a safe place to call home but they are also able to receive medical, social and recreational services on site.”

Located on 6th Street and Maple Avenue, along the border of Skid Row, the building is owned by the Skid Row Housing Trust and houses a Department of Health Services primary care clinic on the ground level that specializes in providing integrated health care services to homeless people and Star residents and the department’s Housing for Health offices with residential units above.  Philanthropic and financial organizations also funded the Star Apartments, the first supportive housing project in Los Angeles with 100 percent of its residents referred by the Department of Health Services.

Designed by notable architect Michael Maltzan, the six floor, 98,000- square-foot- LEED platinum certified building is made of prefabricated residences that were placed on top of a concrete superstructure. Formerly an elevated parking garage, the building includes track, a garden patio community kitchen, community garden and lounge for the tenants.

Robert Newman, Skid Row Housing Trust property supervisor of Star apartments hopes that Star will be a life changing experience for all its tenants.

“All of us have bumps in the road,” Newman said. “We want people to have a chance to get back on their feet and become productive citizens.”

County Unveils Pilot Program to Combat Sex Trafficking

Los Angeles County is moving forward to strengthen the safety net for children who have been victims of sex trafficking. After two years of work, county departments are working together to provide wraparound services for these young people.

“It is our job to protect our children,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And we will not empower sick unscrupulous pimps and johns who buy and sell children on our streets to criminalize our children as prostitutes. Our children are victims needing our support.”

1MZ_0150The Supervisor joined Board Chairman Don Knabe and representatives of multiple county departments to unveil the first Los Angeles County pilot program to establish a first responder protocol for sex trafficking victims.

Where once young people picked up on sex-related charges were treated as “prostitutes,” both supervisors, emphasized that no child should be given the label.

“Changing the culture, especially in government, can be very difficult, as we all know,” Supervisor Knabe said, adding “but these girls, who may be a neighbor or may be a relative are being tortured with physical and sexual abuse.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that Los Angeles is one of the nation’s 13 high intensity child prostitution areas, and it is estimated that, 3,000 children in the region are victims of trafficking. T average age these young people are forced or coerced onto the streets is between 12 and13 years-old, and increasingly, sex trafficking is a highly lucrative business run by gangs.

1MZ_0141With the new protocol in place, it is the county’s goal to see that underage victims of sex trafficking no longer are arrested, detained and released in what is often an unending cycle. With the paradigm shift, it is the goal of law enforcement, mental health officials, child protection agencies to surround the victim with care and treatment, ensuring, for example, that they are placed in a safe housing, enrolled in school and given proper physical and mental health services. And the program is only the first of many steps that will be coming to help these children.

The board of supervisors will receive quarterly updates on the results of the new system.

“The pilot is an important first step that establishes a strong response team that will be individualized—treating the needs of each victim, one child at a time,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “What we truly hope is that it creates a bond of trust between these children and the adults who do care about their welfare and have their best interests at heart. With trust, these children can heal. As they heal, they can begin to rebuild their young lives.”

Posters to Aid Victims of Trafficking

Two years ago, as they gathered around a conference table at the Coalition to Abolish Trafficking and Slavery, a group of sex trafficking survivors decided that posting a hotline number in bars, truck stops, massage parlors and emergency rooms would be a lifeline for victims seeking help. It would be a sign for a Good Samaritan who is ready to intervene.

And so they wrote letters and brought the idea to legislators in Sacramento. The result of their efforts is a state law that now requires these businesses and facilities to place a poster in a place that is visible.

“As a survivor myself, I believe that the outreach with the posters is critical in helping people identity victims of human trafficking and making it easier for victims themselves to seek help,” said Maria Suarez, an advocate for other victims.

This week, advocates, survivors and elected officials, gathered to mark the official launch of the campaign poster, with the number 1-888-539-2373 in bright green font for all to see.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council Member Nury Martinez and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer all showed their support for raising awareness about the issue of sex trafficking at a press conference held at the National Council of Jewish Women in Los Angeles.

“Today, we celebrate not only the launch of the poster distribution, but we also celebrate the power of survivor advocacy and grass roots initiatives,” said Kay Buck, CEO and Executive Director of CAST. “Across the nation, states which have enacted public posting laws have seen significant increases in calls to human trafficking hotlines.  When victims have access to this information, they will call, and their lives will be changed because of it.”

Stating his outrage at the grown men who profit from and exploit children for sex, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said trafficking is the “moral issue of our time.”

“These are victims, not prostitutes,” he said. “These posters are a low risk, non-confrontational way to take action. We know that these Johns and pimps have their own language, special codes and phrases to signal that they want to sell or purchase children for sex. And with these posters, we will let the victims know we will have our own code. A code says we care and want to help.”

Although the notice only will affect businesses and facilities in the city of Los Angeles, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Knabe will soon introduce a motion for businesses and facilities throughout the county.

Volunteers started a city-wide, door-to-door poster distribution campaign.  In addition, the city attorney’s office has spearheaded the mailing of an enforcement notice so that businesses know that the city of L.A. is taking this new law seriously.

Added City Attorney Mike Feuer, “This notice has had meaningful impact in other states. This is a cause we have pledged to join.”

Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) (888-539-2373) and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (888-373-7888).

Click here to view the motion passed by the Board of Supervisors.

More information about the SB1193 Implementation Taskforce can be found at http://ncjwla.org/our-programs/advocacy/human-trafficking-outreach-project.

More Help Coming to Trafficking Victims

Instead of arresting children who are bought and sold for sex on prostitution-related charges, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has launched a new program for juveniles in Compton and Sylmar that seeks to help them get out of the life.

The First Step Program, will have a dedicated team of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, children’s services providers and victim’s advocacy groups identify children who have been trafficked for sex.

Instead of being arrested and sent through the juvenile justice system, these children will be brought into a 10 week program that offers mental health services, substance abuse treatment, educational programs and shelter.

“We in law enforcement mostly ignored the underlying issues,” said District Attorney Jackie Lacey at a press conference to announce the program. “Fortunately we are changing the way we view these crimes. We believe that minors that engage in sex for pay are victims not criminals. We believe we should help these children, not detain them.”

At the press conference, Lacey was flanked by interim Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott, high ranking members of the Los Angeles Police Department and representatives from victim advocacy groups Saving Innocence, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Valley Trauma Center as well as the YWCA.

The program will be rolled out in Sylmar and Compton due to the high number of children arrested in those areas. Minors diverted to the program must agree to participate and when they complete it, they will not have a record of arrest. Although the district attorney’s office would like for the victims to cooperate with law enforcement so they can arrest pimps and Johns, it will not be required.

“We hope to save children’s lives,” said Lacey. “And also identify and prosecute the traffickers who exploit these children.”

The news conference capped a recent series of positive steps being taken at the state and local level to combat sex trafficking. The City of Los Angeles will begin posting a hotline number for victims in establishments like bars and emergency rooms, with Los Angeles County soon following suit. Four bills related to sex trafficking soon will be introduced in the state legislature; they call for stiffer penalties for Johns who solicit children for sex, enhancing penalties for gang members involved in trafficking and to expand wiretap authorization for people suspected of human trafficking.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to fund CAST for a pilot program to increase services for young victims. And recently, a community based service provider, Restoration Diversion Services, celebrated its grand opening to help victims along Long Beach Boulevard in Compton receive counseling and GED certification.

“We are seeing an unprecedented level of cooperation among leaders in California and Los Angeles to combat the issue of human trafficking,” said Kay Buck, CEO of CAST. “It is exciting and reassuring to see this much commitment toward helping our most vulnerable victims in society get out of a life of being exploited by modern-slavery.”

Added Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, “We must bring an end to the sexual exploitation of children that is happening everyday on our streets. We are sending a message loud and clear to the victims that we are here to help. We are also determined to bring severe punishment to the pimps and Johns that perpetrate these heinous crimes.”

For a look at a one-on-one interview with District Attorney Jackie Lacey see the video below:

A Haven for Victims of Human Trafficking


For years, community activist Sinetta Farley saw too many young girls walking the streets of Long Beach Boulevard, a popular “track” for human trafficking. And so Farley was moved to do help the young victims of the sex trade.

She founded Restoration Diversion Services in 2009, an organization devoted to helping young victims get out of the life by counseling to them and helping them find services. This year, however, she finally was able to establish a storefront on the boulevard. It is the first drop in center in Compton that offers victims a refuge from the pimps and Johns that who exploit and abuse them on a daily basis.

Her center, which runs in partnership with the Compton Clergy Council, the non-profits Mary Magdalene Project and Children of the Night, is now open three days a week and offers victims food, drink, shelter, clothing and counseling. It also GED preparation through a program run by Children of the Night, which has been helping children escape the life of prostitution since it was founded in 1979.

“Long Beach Boulevard is the track,” said Farley at the grand opening before a crowd of community supporters, volunteers, sex trafficking survivors and elected officials. “We are in the center of the battle; in gang territory. To meet the girls in their environment is very challenging. We hope to make these girls aware of the services they can have. Now the community doesn’t have to ask, ‘what can I do?’ they can just walk through the door.”

The two-room center, which has a comfortable sofa in the entry way and a conference table in another room, is packed with thoughtful amenities the children might want such as tissues, nail polish, candy, a prayer board with names of victims, blankets and even a few stuffed animals. Throughout, there are inspirational signs such as “Make Your Life Worth Living,” to give victims a sense of hope. There is a computer available to help them receive training for their GED. Only the locked wrought iron door in the front and the constant vigilance by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies are a reminder that many of these children are escaping very dangerous situations.

Sex trafficking victims, whose average age is 12-14, often come from dysfunctional backgrounds and many have neither parents nor loving guardians, and instead have been brought up in the foster care system. Already low on self-esteem, many are “owned” by gang members acting as their pimps who beat them, threaten them and take away any form of identification to make the victims more vulnerable. It is estimated that in L.A. County there are 3,000 children involved in sex trafficking, a lucrative trade increasingly run by gangs.

Changing the perception of these victims in society at large is important, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who attended the ribbon cutting. “These children are not prostitutes,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Children cannot give consent to have sex with a grown person.”

Indeed, as Brenda Allmond, part of the training team at RDS, put it, “This could be your daughter, your granddaughter, your sister, your mother. We are in a battle for the life of our children.”

Survivors like D’Lita Miller said having a resource like Restoration Diversion Services available at ground zero of the sex trafficking epidemic sends a huge statement to the abusers.

“We are sending a clear message to the enemy: this has got to stop,” she said. “Each and every one of these victims came from a place of broken-ness. This is a place of restoration. It is going to take all of us to change this. I ask you to put down your judgment. I ask you for compassion.”

For more information please call: 310-639-1695
Restoration Diversion Services is located at 208 North Long Beach Blvd., Compton.

Our Children are Not for Sale: Hundreds March Against Sex Trafficking


Chants of “Our children are not for sale!” echoed loudly along a stretch of Long Beach Boulevard as nearly 400 residents, members of church organizations, community activists and elected officials marched from Compton to Lynwood, ignoring a light evening drizzle to bring attention to the plight of children who are sexually trafficked.

“Every day, children as young as 12 are bought and sold by adult men,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who organized the march. “We will shine a light on this despicable behavior. You, who come here days, nights, weekends to buy these girls, we see you. And we will bring changes throughout Los Angeles County and the state of California.”

[raw]The march, which began at Palmer Avenue in Compton and ended at Helen Keller Elementary School in Lynwood, was attended by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, attorney and social justice advocate Sandra Fluke and other local officials as well as community residents. Marchers followed a 1.6-mile route that is often the site where “johns” and “pimps” buy and sell young victims. Seedy motels and some businesses along the corridor also contribute to this activity.

Human sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar business increasingly run by gangs. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that 100,000 children in the United States are sold for sex each year. In Los Angeles, it is estimated that as many as 3,000 children are trafficked.


Sheriff Baca pledged that his department would arrest the men who have sex with underage girls.

“These young girls are victims. Our strategy is not to put them in a prosecutorial place but to save them from those who should be prosecuted,” he said.

At the event, survivors moved the crowd by telling their stories and calling for action.

“As a child, I was bought and sold here on these streets,” said D’Lita Miller, who was kidnapped and raped at 11 and ultimately forced into the life of sexual exploitation. Miller, who is now an advocate for girls, with the organization Saving Innocence, urged the crowd to look at girls on the street with compassion and love.

“I stand here as a voice for the voiceless. These are not prostitutes. These are children of God. Stand up because they need you. All of you here are making a statement.”

Maria Suarez, with the National Council of Jewish Women, was purchased for $200 at the age of 15 and endured years of beatings and sexual exploitation, thanked the crowd.

“It is so beautiful to see everyone here,” she said. “We are human beings. We are not disposable. I encourage all of you to keep on fighting.”

Many residents said they turned out for the march after witnessing too many lewd acts committed by men with young victims in parked cars, or coming in and out of a row of seedy motels and the adjacent alleyways. Much of the activity occurs in front of the school or in the school parking lot when children are getting in and out of school.

The march even drew residents from Long Beach, who said that what happens on the stretch of boulevard in Compton and Lynwood can also affect their own community as well.

“We are neighbors,” said Carlos Valdez of the Coolidge Triangle community in Long Beach, noting that whenever law enforcement cracks down on the trafficking activity in Lynwood and Compton, it gets pushed into their neighborhood. “We know that this can be a cat and mouse game. So we like to get involved.”

Assemblymember Mitchell pledged to the crowd that her first pieces of legislation in January would attack the issue of sex trafficking in California.

“If you are here tonight, that means you intend to do something about this travesty happening in our state and our country,” she said. “Thank you for making a public commitment to do the right thing for our children.”
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March Against Child Sex Trafficking

To combat the sex trafficking of children in Los Angeles County, and to put their buyers and sellers on notice that trafficking will not be tolerated, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas is sponsoring an evening march on November 21 along Long Beach Boulevard.

“I encourage anyone who is concerned about the welfare of our children to join us Friday, November 21,” said the Chairman. “A concerned community must turn out to let these victims know we care, tell the neighborhood that this blight will not be tolerated and to send a warning to the customers and traffickers that we are watching you and we will come after you.”

On any given day along a stretch of Long Beach Boulevard that traverses the cities of Compton, Lynwood and into South Gate, scores of young girls can be seen walking along in short skirts and tight tops while older men in cars slow down to arrange a purchase. It continues to be called prostitution, yet in many cases it is not – it is actually the sex trafficking of children.  Trafficking is an increasingly sophisticated and lucrative trade that is now largely run by gangs as part of a criminal enterprise.  With victims often expected to have sex with as many as 20 adult men per night, and a nightly quota set by the pimp to bring in between $1,000 to $3,500 per day, it is also becoming more profitable than drug dealing.

These victims are controlled by pimps who beat them, threaten them and manipulate them into selling their bodies.  They are typically U.S. citizens, including adults, girls, boys, and transgender youth.  Although less common, immigrants may also be victimized. Their buyers also are typical: Married, middle class men with a job and a college education.

As Rachel Lloyd, founder and executive director of the anti-sex trafficking nonprofit group GEMS, said to the Polaris Project, a sex trafficking monitoring group. “Throughout the U.S., girls are being bought and sold by adults to adults. Girls are sold on the streets, in strip-clubs, brothels, truck-stops and with increasing frequency on internet sites like Craigslist and Backpage.”

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 3,000 children are trafficked for sex. Some are runaways, others are in the foster care system, others are duped into the trade by pimps and traffickers who pretend to be boyfriends – many have been assaulted and raped early in life, and believe they deserve nothing better.

While much of the trafficking happens online, a great deal also occurs along popular “tracks” such as Long Beach Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Along these stretches, in alleys and run-down motels, men pay to have sex with girls as young as 12. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, on any given weekend night as many as 1,000 cars line up along Long Beach Boulevard as men wait to buy sex with children.

Click here to download the flyer in English.  Click here to download the flyer in Spanish.

Training Leaders to Change Communities

Rev. Cecil Murray and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Hoping to increase community participation in reducing violence among young people, ministers, counselors and community activists gathered recently at the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement to discuss ways they can go into communities and churches and help implement change.

The center has created a leadership transformation program, the Faith Leaders Institute, which inspires community leaders to establish mentoring services, host job training seminars and other community outreach efforts in order to make a difference in Boyle Heights, Long Beach, Santa Ana and South Los Angeles.

As Murray explains its mission: “The challenge continues to be, if I can help somebody as I travel along, then my living has not been in vain.”

In addition to youth violence, the program included a discussion on job creation, health disparities and building healthy communities. For example, with unemployment continuing to disproportionately affect the African-American community, job education outreach efforts are essential. In addition, there is a need to reduce incarceration rates and to address the issues that make black males 5 ½ times more likely than white males to be incarcerated and Latinos are 3 times more likely.

“When we talk about the cycle of violence and incarceration – I don’t know a better solution than to provide someone with a job,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who gave the opening remarks.  The Chairman also spoke of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital and Outpatient Center in Willowbrook, which is nearing completion, as a centerpiece for creating healthy communities. “The new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital and campus is the common denominator in a community revitalization effort.”

Indeed, some of the speakers highlighted the nexus between being poor and uneducated and incidence of violence. Poverty is acutely felt in a society that has such immense wealth disparity. “Violence is a natural outgrowth when poverty and hopelessness come together,” said Rev. Everett Bell Jr., associate minister at Mt. Olive 2nd Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. “The only answer we have for that problem is to build more prisons.”
Noting the high rate of ADHD diagnosis among African American boys, Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a psychologist, said that deep rooted problems cannot be dismissed but rather addressed with mental health counseling.

“We have to provide the services people need to heal,” said Bryant-Davis. “We see such trauma in our community. It is not just immediate trauma but inter-generational trauma. We are dealing with multiple layers of dysfunction.”

Many are stepping up to help. Once a week, a group of men who are members of Men of Color in the Industry go to a local elementary school and mentor 6th grade boys.  Jon Covington, founder of MOCITI, said by teaching these boys social skills, how to get along, set goals for themselves and think about their future, there is more likelihood they will graduate from high school and become productive members of society.

“We like to start when they are young and they are more trainable,” said Covington. “As Fredrick Douglass said, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ ”

Another panelist, Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., spoke of the importance of teaching children their value. Gossett, who founded the Eracism Foundation to help combat racism and stereotyping through educational outreach, said many children are not being taught how to respect others or to assume responsibility for their actions.

“These children are not taught to behave by the generation that came before them,” he said. “They have not been taught so they cannot be blamed. We need to show these children hope. It’s our job to restore sanity, physically, mentally and spiritually.”

 

County Moves to Help Homeowners Facing Foreclosures

In an effort to help homeowners and renters at risk of losing their homes, Los Angeles County now will offer free counseling and information services for residents facing foreclosure.

The expanded Homeowners Notification Program, which the Board of Supervisors passed on October 22nd, came as a result of a motion sponsored by Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and a county-backed state bill to help homeowners and lenders. The county is set to launch the expanded services by December 1st.

Currently, residents facing foreclosure do not have access to free county services to help them save their homes. With the new ordinance, the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs will work directly with lenders and homeowners to explore options to avoid foreclosure. In addition, the department’s investigators will work with law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and investigate real estate fraud and refer cases for civil or criminal prosecution. To cover the cost of this service, the new fee for notice of defaults and sales will be $7 while the fee for the recording of deeds will increase from $4 to $7.

Sadly, many residents who faced foreclosure have been targeted by fraudulent “foreclosure consultants” with promises of help only to be charged for costly services that ultimately never were provided. According to the consumer affairs department, many of those victims paid anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 in fees to these fraudsters but nonetheless still lost their homes. Since 2006, more than 450,000 Los Angeles County homes have gone into foreclosure.

“This service is intended to protect residents and empower them to try to save their homes,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “Too many people are targeted by predators and they end up not only losing their homes but also their life’s savings. The purpose of this program is to prevent foreclosures from happening but also help those who have been tricked. That is a good thing for all concerned.”