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A National Exploratory Study on Housing Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Summer 2024

Project Background

Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people for profit through the means of force, fraud, or coercion and may include forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, and/or sexual exploitation. Housing is a top priority need for trafficking survivors in their recovery and reintegration process. However, little is known about the landscape of existing housing programs or the effectiveness of these services for survivors of human trafficking. The goal is to conduct research that informs effective policies and interventions that address the housing needs of trafficking survivors. This includes efforts to provide safe and stable housing options specifically designed for survivors of human trafficking. Housing is a basic human right and may prevent (re)victimization of vulnerable and marginalized populations.

The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to identify best practices for housing survivors of human trafficking in the U.S. Three objectives will guide this project: (1) Identify innovative models and agency policies around housing and human trafficking; (2) Determine goals and outcomes of housing interventions especially related to health and well-being; and (3) Assess desired types and components of housing for survivors. First, we will engage in stakeholder mapping to identify the type and location of housing services available to survivors of human trafficking across the United States. Then, the project will comprise two parts; Part I will consist of surveying service providers, and Part II will entail interviewing survivors of human trafficking. This will be followed by quantitative and qualitative data analysis as well as writing a peer-reviewed journal article and policy brief.

Student Role

The student may participate in a wide range of activities to support the research project. First, the student will be tasked with conducting literature reviews. This includes reviewing academic journals to gain a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge on the research topic. By doing so, the student will learn how to identify gaps in the literature and refine research questions. The student will complete the CITI IRB training to understand research ethics with human subjects. The student will work on stakeholder mapping, meaning they will identify organizations across the United States that are providing housing and detail the services provided. This may involve web searches as well as contacting service organizations to identify specific services provided.

The student will create a "heat map" to visually depict the saturation of housing services by state. The student may work on research instrument development, such as assisting in the design of a questionnaire and posting it on an online platform. The student may also be tasked with the design of flyers, recruitment of study participants, and data collection using effective communication skills. Depending on the student skill level, they may conduct descriptive quantitative data analysis in SPSS or assist in the construction of a codebook to analyze qualitative data. The student may also contribute to analysis of qualitative data consisting of identifying themes and patterns. Finally, the student will be tasked with writing content on initial findings that may contribute to a peer-reviewed journal article and/or policy brief. Overall, the student may participate in all stages of the research process.

Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits

  • The student will learn how to critically appraise research literature.
  • The student will learn ethics associated with conducting research with vulnerable and marginalized populations.
  •  The student will learn strategies for research recruitment and data collection.
  • The student will learn basic data analysis skills.
  • The student will develop their academic writing skills.
  • The student will collaborate on a team that includes faculty members from other universities.
  • This will allow the student to network and explore opportunities for future research and graduate education.
  • Depending on the student's contributions to the project, they may be considered for inclusion as a co-author on a peer-reviewed journal article and/or policy brief.

Lindsay Gezinski

Associate Professor
Social Work
Social Work

My mentoring philosophy revolves around fostering a reciprocal and collaborative partnership with students. I believe in providing students with autonomy to explore ideas and practice skills while offering guidance and consultation when needed. This approach promotes a sense of ownership and encourages students to take charge of their learning journey. To facilitate this, I prioritize regular weekly or biweekly meetings with students, where we engage in open discussions. During these meetings, students have the freedom to identify areas for personal growth and skill development. I focus on recognizing and enhancing student strengths while also addressing areas for improvement, creating a balanced approach to mentorship.

In our interactions, I emphasize setting clear goals and providing constructive feedback, ensuring that students have a structured path forward. Rather than adopting an authoritarian role, I encourage open dialogue and collaborative exploration of research ideas. This approach not only empowers students but also informs project directions and tasks based on their interests and strengths. Furthermore, my commitment to mentorship is evident in my publications, with over half of them including student co-authors. This underscores my dedication to nurturing the next generation of scholars, providing them with valuable hands-on experience and opportunities for growth. In summary, my mentoring philosophy is characterized by a student-centered and collaborative approach. It revolves around autonomy, goal-setting, constructive feedback, and open dialogue, all aimed at empowering students to excel in their academic and research pursuits.