Facility for Human Trafficking Victims Raises Concern for Oakland Neighborhood

Some East Oakland Hill residents are opposing the opening of Claire’s House, a facility that will serve as a home and a therapy center for sex trafficking victims, in their neighborhood.

The center, which is just a couple of hundred feet from a school, will be for girls between the ages of 12 and 17.

Since the neighborhood found out about it, it’s been getting a cold shoulder.

"We’re being vilified as if we are somehow wrong for being concerned about our own children," said Oakland resident Suzette Chaumette. "Our children go to that school. We have two daughters, 6 and 9 years old and I can imagine them just wanting to know who lives over there."

Those against the home say it’s too close to International Boulevard, where some of the girls may have been trafficked and where the people who were trafficking them could still be operating.

"There's not much distance to take his car and drive up through our neighborhood to get to these places," said neighbor James Brown.

These concerns are nothing new to the director of Claire’s House, who says it’s frustrating that the girls have nowhere to go.

"I always want to know what the zip code is of somewhere else. Everything should happen somewhere else," director Leah Kimble-Price said. "I want to say, I appreciate their concern, and maybe we can open the hearts and minds of people who perhaps don't even know how they are contributing to these young peoples' rejection."

Residents of the Oakland neighborhood will continue to have weekly meetings and try to iron out their differences.

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