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Housing crisis used to coerce trafficked workers in Massachusetts, new investigation finds

In a new Trafficking Inc. story, GBH News reveals how workers are trapped in low-paying jobs for fear of being evicted from housing provided by their employer.

Labor traffickers are taking advantage of rising housing costs in Massachusetts to further exploit trafficked workers, an investigation by GBH News has found.

Interviews and court records revealed several cases of migrant workers coerced into laboring long hours with little to no pay, for fear of being turned out of housing provided by their employer.

The story, reported by the GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting, is part of Trafficking Inc., a global investigation in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that reveals the networks of companies and people that draw profit from cross-border labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

Experts told GBH News that control of housing is one of the most effective ways traffickers can maintain control over laborers — and Massachusetts is the state with the seventh highest housing costs in the country. A national survey of labor and sex trafficking survivors found that over 60% were recruited during a period of homelessness or housing instability, according to anti-trafficking organization Polaris.

Ongoing Trafficking Inc. investigations have found that labor trafficking cases are rarely filed in Massachusetts court because victims are afraid to speak out, and because law enforcement often mischaracterized forced labor cases as wage disputes.

Read the full story at GBH News.

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