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Roanoke organization fighting human trafficking partners with City

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A Roanoke non-profit supporting women who have been abused or subjected to human trafficking will expand its operations.

The City of Roanoke is selling an area of land in Botetourt County to the Straight Street group.

According to Director Keith Farmer, the center Straight Street plans to build by refurbishing that existing building will serve teenage women from all over the state who need emergency refuge.

He says once opened, it will be one of the first of its kind in the state.

With unanimous approval, Roanoke City Council is partnering with Straight Street Ministries to offer a place for teenage girls who are being trafficked across Virginia to take refuge.

"As a mother, as a grandmother, as a member of Council, for me, personally, this means that the City is doing our fair share of what we can do to provide protection for children who have been victims of trafficking," said Council Member Anita Price.

Straight Street Director Keith Farmer, who is already leading the charge against trafficking in Roanoke, says they hope to re-purpose a building by the end of the year, because the need is already here.

"Human trafficking across the United States is huge. Virginia, based on what the Players Project, which tracks numbers, Virginia's number 5 of all the states, and so it's a huge problem in the Commonwealth and the shelter will serve not only our community but all of Virginia," said Farmer.

An architecture firm, Hughes Associates, has already agreed to work with Farmer and his group to renovate the building, but a lot of repairs are necessary.

"The building has some water damage. It has some disrepair, some things that have been torn up in the building, and just the lack of anyone being there to care for it, it's got some rot in places and it's water damage that has actually come through the roof," said Martha Chester, with Hughes Associates.

Farmer says Straight Street is actively raising money for the job, and they're already part of the way there.

"Right now we have $180,000 dollars given towards the remodel, then a total remodel is right at $400,000, but that includes a huge road leading to it, a quarter mile repaved, a new roof, gutted 12,000 square foot facility," said Farmer.

Farmer says once finished, the facility will be able to hold up to eight girls at a time up to 90 days.

Straight Street will also be working with long-term shelters to transfer girls who need extra care.

If you would like to support their efforts, you can go to streetransom.com.