The ongoing problem of street prostitution in Chattanooga
Ridgedale Neighborhood Association Vice President Gary Ball is very active in reporting street prostitution. He told WDEF police have been doing a good job at cracking down on prostitution but there is still a lot of work to be done.
"We still have a bad pocket between 23rd and Main Street and 18th and Willow Street," Ball said.
The Neighborhood Association Vice President was quick to point out that street prostitution is a year-round problem that becomes even more noticeable this time of year.
"It just becomes a little more glaring when it’s warm because they’re not having to shelter and stand where they’re not cold. They can just be any place," Ball said.
Within the past several days, several people have either been arrested or cited on charges related to prostitution.
Mimi Nikkel is the ministry director of Love’s Arm Outreach; a ministry that works with law enforcement to help prostitutes get off the street. She says prostitution is directly tied to other street crimes.
"It is very tied to gambling; it’s tied to crack cocaine and meth distribution," Nikkel said.
Nikkel said many of the hookers working the street corners are involved in an addictive prostitution cycle that’s difficult to overcome without help.
"They do the act and they’re ashamed of the act; and so they do the drug to deal with the pain," Nikkel said.
Experts say part of the problem is the customers who patronize and promote street prostitution, which is why Nikkel wanted to relay an important message.
"It’s not worth throwing away your life and the life of your family including your own sense of value as a person. Stop hurting yourself, these women and your family. You don’t have to live like this," Nikkel said.
Her ministry recently acquired donated land from a generous person. Nikkel said the ministry plans to build a safe house on that land to help prostitutes get off the streets and stay off the streets.