Sacramento, Calif., — Human trafficking victims in California can now qualify for up to $20,000 in income loss paid through the California Victim Compensation Board.
Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, Assembly Bill 629 (Smith and Gonzalez) went into effect on January 1, 2020, making human trafficking victims eligible for up to $10,000 of income loss per year, for up to two years. The bill required the Board, on or before July 1, 2020, to adopt regulations that allow it to rely on evidence other than official employment documentation in considering and approving applications for compensation. The Board adopted the regulations in May. The Office of Administrative Law approved the final regulations, ahead of the July 1 deadline.
“It’s clear the trauma of human trafficking extends far beyond the time having been trafficked — survivors often have faced homelessness, addiction and mental health issues stemming from their exploitation,” Assemblywoman Christy Smith said. “My bill with Assemblywoman Gonzalez removes a loophole in the victim compensation system that required survivors to obtain a note from their employer — often times this was their trafficker. The regulations adopted remove these barriers to justice and provide critical support for victims rebuilding their lives.”
“Survivors of human trafficking face unimaginable obstacles when they work to put their lives back on track. They are typically on their own and have to figure out how they will pay for housing and food, apply for work, and get treatment for medical and mental health,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said. “Most human trafficking survivors don’t have the formal documentation CalVCB had previously required to collect lost income, such as a W-2 form. CalVCB’s new rules, now in effect thanks to our legislation AB 629, are a just and fair way to help survivors get back on their feet and get the help they need.”
“CalVCB recognizes the challenges human trafficking victims face as they work to rebuild their lives,” said Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill. “By providing financial support, along with options for medical and mental health treatment and other compensation, CalVCB is able to play a small part in victims’ recovery.”
As with all claims, victims will need to provide CalVCB with evidence of a crime, including, but not limited to, a statement under penalty of perjury from the applicant, a caseworker, a licensed attorney or a witness, or a law enforcement report. Victims brought from other countries and trafficked in California may also qualify. Before AB 629 became law, victims could only prove income loss with formal employment documentation or voluntary cooperation from their traffickers, meaning most could not qualify.
AB 629 became law on January 1, 2020, allowing victims to submit income loss applications, even as CalVCB drafted the required regulations. In the months that followed, CalVCB has approved five income loss claims and compensated those survivors more than $70,000.
Victims, advocates, representatives, and attorneys can apply for compensation in several ways:
- Create an application using CalVCB Online — a secure and private portal that can be easily accessed from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
- Contact a local county Victim Witness Assistance Center.
- Call the CalVCB Help Line at (800) 777-9229.
- Download an application from CalVCB’s How to Apply page.
- E-mail CalVCB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Victims must apply within seven years of the date of the crime. Minor victims must apply by their 28th birthday. CalVCB will release funds for minor victims after their 18th birthday.
If you are a victim of human trafficking, or you suspect someone you know is being trafficked, there are a number of local, national and international organizations that offer and provide help and services, including temporary shelter, legal assistance and medical and mental health treatment.
The California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) provides reimbursement for crime-related expenses to victims who suffer physical injury or the threat of physical injury as a result of violent crime. CalVCB helps crime victims and their families cover unforeseen expenses such as medical bills, mental health treatment, funeral and burial expenses, income loss and more. To learn more about CalVCB, please visit victims.ca.gov.