North Linden neighbors fight back, say "no" to human trafficking, drug abuse

North Linden neighbors fight back, say "no" to human trafficking, drug abuse

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Neighbors in North Linden are saying no to long-term problems along Cleveland Avenue.

Community leaders and neighbors discussed problems and their work to solve them at a Thursday evening meeting.

"She was like a daughter to me, so it hit me pretty hard," said resident and North Linden Area Commission Vice Chair John Lathram.

Lathram has seen just how tragic human trafficking in Columbus can be.

"Some of these women I have known as neighbors," he said. "My neighbor passed away two years ago as a direct result of human trafficking."

It is a problem he has seen closely mixed with drug issues and prostitution on Cleveland Avenue in North Linden for years.

"The biggest thing was the abandoned homes and properties that lead to an increase of prostitution activity and other crimes," said Lathram, a community leader and advocate. "Break-ins, robberies which is fueled by narcotics."

Neighbors discussed the issues at the North Linden Area Commission Meeting Thursday night.

"It is a very important neighborhood initiative and we are proud of it because it takes a different approach to a problem," said the chair of the commission.

Lathram works with a task force to take on human trafficking in more, after neighbors got fed up.

"We were all really upset about the prostitution levels," said Lathram.

At the commission meeting, neighbor said during a recent litter clean up they found more needles than in past years.

"It shows that we do have a bigger problem with the opioid epidemic in our community," said the commission chair." So it is another wake up call for that."

Last month, members of the area commission were told that heroin runs in North Linden are up.

"It seems to be getting worse by the day," said Lathram. "I know that prostitution is an integral part of it."

The group hopes neighbors answer the call to stop the prostitution, human trafficking and drug problems they see along their streets.

"What we are trying to do is get these women off the streets, into beds and get them help that they need," he said.

The goal is to get more families involved with a block watches, picking up litter and volunteering.

They said they are seeing progress, like with new homes being built just a block off of Cleveland Avenue.

The commission will meet again next month.

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