A residential recovery home for teenage victims of sex trafficking has closed permanently after the contractors running the program failed to meet performance goals and racked up $38,000 in unexplained expenditures.
Athena House, a seven-bed, long-term residential program for teenagers and young adults under 21 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation, quietly closed in November, after a staffing shortage raised concerns about the safety of the youth living in the home.
Multnomah County officials say the nonprofit that runs the home, Janus Youth Programs, also failed to meet some of the requirements set out in its contract.
"We've been concerned about whether they're doing everything they can to reach the youth," says Rose Bak, who is the director of Multnomah County's Youth and Family Services Division.
Questionable spending by a subcontractor under Janus Youth Programs also contributed to the county's decision to terminate its contract and funding for Athena House.
The Sexual Assault Resource Center, which provided services to the young people living in Athena House and others, has not accounted for $38,000 in unexplained or improper spending. Because the county has pulled its support for SARC's programs, it is closing two programs aimed at helping young victims of sex trafficking, RYSE and STRYDE.
Janus Youth Programs and SARC did not immediately return requests for comment on the closures.
Multnomah County is not giving up on providing services to the youth that Athena House served. Bak says the county aims to find a new service provider who can restore those services in about three months.
Correction: This story incorrectly identified Athena House as the only residential program for sex trafficked teenagers. Morrison Child and Family Services operates a similar state-funded facility for younger teens. WW regrets the error.