This summer, BHB has had the honor of being on the design team for a project which will fill an important hole in our community: The Underground, a drop-in center for Unbound Fort Worth.
Unbound Fort Worth works with local organizations, schools, and shelters to increase awareness of human trafficking and empower youth to stay safe. They also offer profession-specific trainings for educators, social service providers, and medical professionals to help them identify and respond to any victims they may meet in their professional settings. Statistics show that early intervention and access to necessary services are key to getting trafficked youth to safety and preventing re-victimization.
The organization was founded in 2012 and currently operates out of an office space in Fort Worth. In 2018, Unbound Fort Worth launched 24/7 crisis response and case management services for survivors of human trafficking. Their crisis response and case management have since been field-based, with specially trained advocates responding to calls from law enforcement, CPS, hospitals, or shelters whenever a child is recovered from trafficking. Day or night, they provide emotional support, help meet any of the child’s immediate needs, and begin working with them on safety-planning. With the addition of the drop-in center, youth will now have a safe place to go where they can rest, shower, eat, receive counseling, and build relationships with the staff, among other vital services that may not have otherwise been accessible to them.
With The Underground, they will now have a facility to serve an anticipated 200-300 trafficked, exploited, or at-risk youth per year. Stephanie Byrd, Unbound’s Executive Director told us that they “are thrilled to have a place for vulnerable and traumatized youth to seek healing and restoration and pursue their dreams for a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.” Designed to emulate the feel of “mom’s basement”, the drop-in center includes resting areas, offices restrooms, and a common area with a kitchenette. Unlike institutions such as police stations, juvenile detention facilities, and CPS offices, The Underground provides a laid-back, comfortable place for these vulnerable children to get their bearings and decompress while recovering.
BHB has provided MEP and structural engineering design services for the renovation of an existing 3,800 square-foot space to house The Underground. The project broke ground in June 2020 and the center is expected to open in October.
Learn more at unboundfortworth.org