Prostitution on the rise in Third Ward

November 20, 2009 4:54:54 PM PST
People who live in some neighborhoods in southeast Houston say there's a reason why women are selling their bodies. They blame the economy, saying some women are desperate for money. And they say not all women will take an offer of help. This problem with prostitution is happening in part of Third Ward, in the area near Scott and Sampson. Residents say the women who are involved in prostitution treat it like a business. What's more, many of them don't end up getting help because they don't think there's anything wrong with what they are doing.

Kenneth Carr says his Third Ward neighborhood just north of Texas Southern University isn't what it used to be.

"Most women that's out here doing it, it's not because they really want to," Carr said. "It's really because, basically the economy such as it is, they have to."

He's talking about women in the neighborhood who are selling their bodies for money. What seems like a recent surge in that kind of illegal activity has left frustrated residents worried about the future of their neighborhood.

"It can get better," said resident Marsha Bell. "They can clean up the neighborhood and get those girls off the streets."

How bad is it? Using our exclusive Crime Tracker we found prostitution arrests in Houston's Third Ward were up 52 percent through September of this year.

Deloyd Parker with the SHAPE Community Center said, "We need to go to the streets and we are not doing that to the extent that we need to."

Parker says in many cases these women don't seek out help because they don't realize they need it and therein lies the challenge. He believes the organizations with the available resources and services should unite.

"The churches, the institutions, all of them need to go to the streets, walk with the people," Parker said. "You can't help the people if you don't walk with the people. You can't help the people if you don't understand you're part of the people."

Houston police are cracking down on prostitution in the neighborhoods and making arrests. But as far as cleaning up the streets, residents say it is a work in progress.


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