Homeless Youth Curfew Exemption Passes Committee in Atlanta
(APN) ATLANTA – On Monday, March 28, 2022, the Public Safety/Legal Administration Committee of the City Council of Atlanta approved an ordinance exempting homeless youth from nighttime curfew laws in the City of Atlanta.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, it is currently a crime in the City of Atlanta for a young person under the age of eighteen to be out and about between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they fall under one of the existing exemptions.
The ordinance passed Committee in a vote of six to zero, with one abstention.
Chairman Dustin Hillis (District 9) moved to approve; Councilman Byron Amos (District 3), Vice Chair of the Committee and sponsor of the ordinance, seconded the motion.
Hillis, Amos, Mary Norwood (District 8), Andrea Boone (District 10), Marci Collier Overstreet (District 11), and Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) voted yea. Bond co-sponsored the bill along with Amos.
Keisha Sean Waites (Post 3-at-large) abstained without comment.
Councilman Amos presented a substitute containing three changes to the original ordinance.
Councilwoman Overstreet asked Amos to explain the changes.
The changes included adding a definition of “homeless youth and children”, which was requested by several stakeholders.
The definition of “homeless youth and children” adopted by the Committee, is the same one that is used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and by Atlanta Public Schools.
It is a broad definition that includes youth and children who are temporarily housed in hotel rooms, on couches, and in cars, as well as those in shelters or who are completely unsheltered.
The second change was adding an exemption for individuals under the age of eighteen who are married, in addition to the new exemptions for homeless youth and for emancipated youth, which were already proposed.
The third change is clarifying that parents and guardians may still be held responsible for their failure to supervise.
This change addressed a concern that was raised by the City of Atlanta’s Solicitor’s Office during the Work Session.
The ordinance now advances to Full Council.
The ordinance was supported by Covenant House Georgia; CHRIS 180; Partners for Home; and the Atlanta Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD).
“I’m glad that my colleagues decided to support unhoused youth,” Amos told Atlanta Progressive News.
“It’s the start of a larger conversation about how we protect and support the unhoused population of the City of Atlanta,” Amos said.
The Work Session confirmed that “agencies, nonprofits as well as government agencies are willing to stand together to do the right thing. It was proven in the Work Session. The agencies came together to create something better than… we found it,” Amos said.
PAD supports adding the exemptions and would go further by removing the possibility of arrest for any youth under the curfew ordinance, replacing it with a maximum penalty of a citation.
As for PAD’s request that the possibility of arrest be eliminated for all curfew violations, Amos said that is “probably another part of a conversation to take place. There are a lot of things undone, but this was a first step.”
“First of all it was a promise made during the campaign, and I wanted people to know that if we made a promise during the campaign we are going to stand by it,” Amos said.
“Young people are… residents of this City. Just as we speak to adult homelessness, we have to recognize that youth homelessness is on the rise,” Amos said.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2022)