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New Riverside home offers long-term help for prostitution, trafficking victims

By in Press Enterprise on November 15, 2017

By Imran Ghori

A Riverside home for victims of prostitution and trafficking is one of the first of its kind in the county offering long-term recovery programs.

Rebirth Homes, located in a quiet residential neighborhood, opened in September after two years of planning and fundraising by Rebirth’s founder Debbie Martis.

In 2008, Martis said she became aware of how many people were victims of trafficking and became involved in the issue. She found inspiration for Rebirth Homes a few years ago when she visited a program called Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tenn.

“I realized there were not enough resources for adult women,” Martis said.

Modeled after the Nashville program, Rebirth Homes offers a two-year program that provides safe housing, counseling and job training. Residents take part in individual and group counseling, equine therapy, classes as well as fun activities, Martis said.

“We focus on healing mentally, physically and spiritually,” Martis said.

The home, which the group is renting and may eventually purchase, can house up to 10 people. The group currently has four residents, she said.

Eventually, the Rebirth hopes to start a coffee shop business at which residents could work, she said.

Opal Singleton, president and CEO of Million Kids, a Riverside-based anti-trafficking group, said Rebirth Homes fills an important need. While there are safe houses and other facilities that offer help for trafficking victims, most are short-term and allow survivors to stay only for a few weeks or a month, she said.

Many are grappling with traumatic events that require long-term help to get their lives back on track, Singleton said.

“That’s the value of Rebirth Homes,” she said. “She takes in people who are very hard to place and keeps them long term so they’re safe and don’t have to go back in the real world in 21 days and try to function.”


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