Successfully combating human trafficking demands a 365 day-a-year approach that sparks a change in public perception and creates lasting institutional change—this policy approach should not be reactive to data that is evolving, nor should it be reactive to any one large scale event that Houston hosts. The following objectives and strategies emphasize pro-active and long-term changes that address the gaps identified in the landscape analysis conducted nationally and locally after talking to over 250 stakeholders.

Progress in Plan Implementation
Completed81 Tactics
In Progress0 Tactics
Not Yet Begun 0 Tactics
No Longer Needed10 Tactics
The Mayor’s Office has completed 100% of the First Phase and 84% of the Second Phase of the Strategic Plan in under 4 years, excluding those tactics no longer needed.

To follow the progress we have made in completing the proposed objectives and strategies, see the checklist below. The checklist also provides an at a glance version of the plan.

  • Completed
  • In Progress
  • Not Yet Begun
  • Not Necessary

Last updated: June 15th, 2020

Objective 1: Institutionalize Response & Implement Trainings at Scale

Strategy 1.1: Analysis and Passage of Ordinances and Departmental Policies
  • Tactic 1.1.1 – Examine Massage Establishment Ordinance to propose possible changes.
  • Tactic 1.1.2 – Propose additional ordinances and ordinance amendments. Engage with all relevant stakeholders to receive their input before formulating proposed changes.
Strategy 1.2: Engage Houston Health Department
  • Tactic 1.2.1 – Engage Houston Health Department to combat labor trafficking by implementing training for its 1,200 employees.
  • Tactic 1.2.2 – Training will also instruct restaurant sanitarians to distribute self-identification cards to restaurant employees if the manager/owner allows.
  • Tactic 1.2.3 – Refer potential victims of labor exploitation to the Department of Labor to prompt back wage investigations, if warranted.
  • Tactic 1.2.4 – Incorporate fields for human trafficking-related questions into HHD’s web-based form that sanitarians use when completing an inspection.
Strategy 1.3: Engage Houston Municipal Court
  • Tactic 1.3.1 – Speak with Chief Municipal Court Judge and other stakeholders about exploring a diversion program at the local level.
  • Tactic 1.3.2 – Explore municipal diversion program, and engage a multi-disciplinary team of service providers with translators.
  • Tactic 1.3.3 – Identify service providers and members of multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Tactic 1.3.4 – Engage legal service providers to offer services to women exiting illicit massage businesses.
Strategy 1.4: Assist Houston Police Department/Jail Division
  • Tactic 1.4.1 – Take a tour of the municipal jail to determine the best access points to provide someone arrested for prostitution or massage without a license with a self-identification card.
  • Tactic 1.4.2 – Enlist support of the HPD Jail Division in reprogramming jail phones so that calls to the Polaris hotline may be made.
  • Tactic 1.4.3 – Develop, print, and post signs over municipal jail phone banks with questions that will prompt self-identification.
  • Tactic 1.4.4 – Connect with the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to explore partnership opportunities related to County jail phone banks, services provided through Harris County’s jail, and procedures for the joint intake center, once the building is finished.
Strategy 1.5: Engage the Procurement Department
  • Tactic 1.5.1 – Engage the Procurement Department to combat labor trafficking by examining labor contracts and lists of commodities purchased.
  • Tactic 1.5.2 – Explore possibility of considering whether vendors have received recognition from the State of Texas for participating in the Human Trafficking Prevention Business Partnership Program.
  • Tactic 1.5.3 – Explore the possibility of collecting supply chain information when procurement contracts expire, and ask vendors to provide sub-contractor information.
  • Tactic 1.5.4 – Analyze purchases to assess possibility of purchasing fair trade products.
  • Tactic 1.5.5 – Examine whether P card policies can mandate the purchase of fair trade products.
  • Tactic 1.5.6 – Discuss possible policy changes with City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity.
Strategy 1.6: Engage Houston Airport System (HAS)
  • Tactic 1.6.1 – Renegotiate HAS’s advertising contract with TC Decaeux to stipulate that the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign posters are to be added to the circulation of TC Decaeux’s paid advertising spots.
  • Tactic 1.6.2 – Inquire with airlines that lease terminals about displaying Blue Campaign posters.
  • Tactic 1.6.3 – Identify ways to increase awareness among airport employees and volunteers.
  • Tactic 1.6.4 – Create a short video to play while employees wait for their badges. Amendment (2/13/2020): Houston Airports is now part of DHS’ Blue Lightning Initiative to mobilize the whole airport through training and awareness led by a Human Trafficking Coordinator.
Strategy 1.7: Engage Houston Fire Department (HFD)
  • Tactic 1.7.1 – Request that HFD’s annual online training requirements include a short video on human trafficking, as well as incorporate a Houston Police Department map of prostitution and human trafficking-related incidents.
  • Tactic 1.7.2 – Ask firefighters in the Fire Safety Prevention Program to distribute human trafficking self-identification cards to constituents. Amendment (6/15/2020): Engaged HFD to canvass massage establishments ordered to be closed statewide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tactic 1.7.3 – Facilitate collaboration between HFD firefighters, EMT workers, and HPD. Amendment (6/15/2020): HPD Vice provided the list of potentially illicit massage establishments that HFD used to canvass.
  • Tactic 1.7.4 – Distribute DHS informational sheet at fire stations, and facilitate subsequent discussions.
Strategy 1.8: Train 311 operators
  • Tactic 1.8.1 – Reach out to 311 Director about implementing training for operators.
  • Tactic 1.8.2 – Explore possibility of coordinating training with other general city-wide helplines.
  • Tactic 1.8.3 – Develop script for operators when they suspect calls regarding human trafficking.

Objective 2: Raise Awareness and Change Public Perception

Strategy 2.1: Develop and Launch Joint Anti-Human Trafficking Media Campaign
  • Tactic 2.1.1 – Enlist creative agency to develop in-kind materials for a human trafficking media campaign. Agency will develop PSA scripts and production plans in partnership with HTV.
  • Tactic 2.1.2 – Coordinate with HPD, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and United Against Human Trafficking to jointly lead campaign.
  • Tactic 2.1.3 – Develop timeline for campaign roll out.
  • Tactic 2.1.4 – Ask for celebrities to support and participate in PSAs if necessary.
  • Tactic 2.1.5 – Launch media campaign in partnership with TV and radio partners.
  • Tactic 2.1.6 – Enlist HTV’s support in requesting that local networks donate air space for PSAs.
  • Tactic 2.1.7 – Engage University of Houston’s School of Theater and Dance to arrange for casting calls as necessary for PSAs.
  • Tactic 2.1.8 – Explore ways to have campaign go national by communicating with other cities to see if they have the interest and resources to participate.
Strategy 2.2: Hold Events to Raise the Level of Dialogue and Engage Influencers
  • Tactic 2.2.1 – Convene human trafficking thought leaders in Houston on an annual basis. Discuss the state of human trafficking from an international, national, local, and survivor perspective, and reflect on lessons learned to help formulate policy as Houston implements this plan.
  • Tactic 2.2.2 – Screen Siddharth Kara’s Hollywood feature film, Trafficked, and conclude with a panel discussion featuring Mr. Kara, Mayor Turner, the Special Advisor to the Mayor on Human Trafficking, and Texas Law enforcement officers who are featured in the film.
  • Tactic 2.2.3 – Develop relationships with influencers (e.g. athletes and celebrities) to engage their voice in the anti-trafficking movement.

Objective 3: Coordinate Victim Services and Engage in Direct Outreach

Strategy 3.1: Bridge to Coordinated Services Access Platform
  • Tactic 3.1.1 – Map optimal system process for victims identified through law enforcement investigations and direct outreach efforts. Map actual process, and obtain stakeholder input on how to close the gap.
  • Tactic 3.1.2 – Assess current services, obtain a baseline, coordinate or add services.
  • Tactic 3.1.3 – Explore private funding opportunities so that the City of Houston can move forward with acquiring the technology to support a coordinated services access platform.
  • Tactic 3.1.4 – Partner with local non-profits to apply for the Demonstration of Victims of Human Trafficking Grant, which can support technology costs associated with coordinated access.
  • Tactic 3.1.5 – Explore building out system that bridges to the one created by the Special Assistant to the Mayor on Homeless Initiatives.
  • Tactic 3.1.6 – Ensure that service providers can handle additional flow of clients once a coordinated services access platform is established.
  • Tactic 3.1.7 – Coordinate with the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office to leverage overlapping services needed by both ex-gang members and victims of trafficking, such as no-cost tattoo removal.
  • Tactic 3.1.8 – Offer culturally sensitive services. Train service providers on cultural sensitivity, and enlist their assistance with program-oriented supportive housing of victims.
  • Tactic 3.1.9 – Coordinate with national and local organizations to offer training on human trafficking and its Houston-specific manifestations.

Objective 4: Implement Joint HAC-HT Initiatives

Strategy 4.1: Develop Self-Identification Cards for Use in Direct Outreach
  • Tactic 4.1.1 – Develop a double-sided card designed to prompt victims of sex and labor trafficking to self-identify.
  • Tactic 4.1.2 – Partner with Department of Neighborhoods’ iSpeak program to translate the card into the five most-spoken foreign languages in Houston: Arabic, Chinese traditional, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Alter languages based on audience, if necessary.
  • Tactic 4.1.3 – Request funding for printing costs through HPD, HHD, and private donors.
  • Tactic 4.1.4 – Ask HAC-HT’s members to jointly distribute the self-identification cards.
  • Tactic 4.1.5 – Request that Polaris notify its hotline operators of planned distribution date.

Strategy 4.2: Develop Resource Guide for Use in Community Outreach
  • Tactic 4.2.1 – Engage United Way and 211 to develop a human trafficking resource guide. Amendment (12/12/2016): Online database created by Rescue Houston.
  • Tactic 4.2.2 – Ask United Way to vet agencies before they are listed in the guide, as it already does with organizations listed in its 211 database. Amendment (12/12/2016): Organizations listed in database determined by Rescue Houston
  • Tactic 4.2.3 – Partner with Department of Neighborhoods’ iSpeak program to translate the guide into the five most spoken foreign languages in Houston: Arabic, Chinese traditional, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Amendment (2/2/2017): The database we decided to use instead does not accommodate for the Google Translate add-on used for
  • Tactic 4.2.4 – Develop a joint printing and distribution plan.
Strategy 4.3: Implement Ways to Decrease Demand
  • Tactic 4.3.1 – Coordinate with law enforcement to assess the current volume of local arrests and prosecution of sex buyers, and to review relevant arrest records.
  • Tactic 4.3.2 – Assess level of pimp-controlled street prostitution and number of cantinas and Latino residential brothels. Amendment (6/15/2020): Prevalence and scope study is cost prohibitive.
  • Tactic 4.3.3 – Implement procedures to better track the proportion of prostitution arrests that involve buyers.
  • Tactic 4.3.4 – Support trainings and initiatives that increase local law enforcement’s capacity for reversal operations
  • Tactic 4.3.5 – Implement ordinance and policy changes to close commercial sex venues, such as brothels and illicit massage parlors, which provide a market to sex buyers.
  • Tactic 4.3.6 – Examine creative ways to increase Chapter 125 filings, or nuisance abatement proceedings, to close fronts for sex trafficking.
  • Tactic 4.3.7 – Develop a deterrence website to educate potential sex buyers of the harms and consequences of engaging in such activity.
  • Tactic 4.3.8 – Coordinate with partners so that purchasers who respond to decoy ads receive a text message that includes a link to the deterrence website.
  • Tactic 4.3.9 – Engage in online disruption of sex buyer activity through targeted advertising to buyers on social media, paid sex forums, and buyer review boards.
  • Tactic 4.3.10 – Incorporate demand reduction messaging in planned media campaign.
  • Tactic 4.3.11 – Engage male allies and groups to empower and educate men about how their message of respectful manhood dovetails with the vision and goals of the anti-human trafficking movement.
Strategy 4.4: Assess Gaps in Service to Child Victims /
Amendment (2/2/2017): The Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team is responsible for developing a regional model
  • Tactic 4.4.1 – Assess the service landscape with support of HAC-HT’s Prevention committee and child advocacy groups.
  • Tactic 4.4.2 – Further engage GIRLS Court, Center for Success, Children’s Assessment Center, and Child Protective Services based on assessment findings.
  • Tactic 4.4.3 – Address service gaps by adding or supplementing existing services.
Strategy 4.5: Implement a Hotel Training Program
  • Tactic 4.5.1 – Coordinate hotel-based voluntary trainings. Note: Hotels will provide the space, and absorb the cost of audio visual needs.
  • Tactic 4.5.2 – Develop an incentive for hotels to offer human trafficking training to employees, such as gaining recognition for successfully participating in the Human Trafficking Prevention Business Partnership Program. Amendment (4/15/2020): Incentive provided through an ordinance passed by City Council unanimously. See Phase 2 of Plan.
  • Tactic 4.5.3 – Encourage voluntary trainings by speaking at Hotel and Motel Association events.
  • Tactic 4.5.4 – Motivate hotels to develop, after trainings are implemented, an in-house protocol for employees when reporting human trafficking tips. Note: The development of such a protocol is entirely voluntary.
Strategy 4.6: Engage Taxi Industry
  • Tactic 4.6.1 – Identify and contact the most-used taxi cab companies about implementing employee training, start with Greater Houston Transportation Company.
  • Tactic 4.6.2 – Engage Houston First to provide training to medallion drivers through the Top Taxi Program.
  • Tactic 4.6.3 – Develop necessary resources, such as email and text blasts.
Strategy 4.7: Engage the Restaurant Industry /
Amendment (8/23/2017): The Houston Health Department’s Environmental Food Establishment Inspectors will address.
  • Tactic 4.7.1 – Reach out to restaurant associations.
  • Tactic 4.7.2 – Explore with stakeholders on strategies to engage restaurant associations.
Strategy 4.8: Engage Faith-Based Organizations
  • Tactic 4.8.1 – Find effective ways to engage and partner with the faith-based movement. Any subsequent steps must include voices from a representative number of faiths interested in anti-trafficking efforts.
  • Tactic 4.8.2 – Supplement their existing outreach efforts by bridging access to resources, and obtain their input on proposed coordinated services system.

Objective 5: Establish Houston as National Model for Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts

Strategy 5.1: Establish Houston as National Model
  • Tactic 5.1.1 – Examine opportunities to speak at conferences to raise human trafficking professionals’ awareness of Houston’s initiatives.
  • Tactic 5.1.2 – Highlight local solutions when speaking on local, regional, and national panels.
  • Tactic 5.1.3 – Showcase City’s unique local-level approach by writing a guest blog for the Polaris Project.
  • Tactic 5.1.4 – Raise the City’s anti-human trafficking profile by working with the Polaris Project to present the Strategic Plan during a call that convenes stakeholders from around the United States. Amendment (8/23/2017): The Mayor’s Office engaged municipal leaders on Houston’s comprehensive response at the 2017 U.S. Mayor’s Conference.
  • Tactic 5.1.5 – Speak with other Mayor’s Offices and share the Strategic Plan template and any other materials they can incorporate in their own initiatives.
  • Tactic 5.1.6 – Build the capacity of partner cities by creating local resource toolkits for model initiatives that cities can adopt, modify, and implement. Include editable design files used for the media campaign, as well as detailed printing instructions.