The ACLU’s questions about the Constitutional rights of residents has helped end a curfew imposed by the company that owns two low-income apartment complexes in Raleigh.
On May 27, workers taped notices on the front doors of tenants of Raleigh North and Milbank Court, two apartment complexes northeast of downtown, saying that Treetop Development of Teaneck, N.J., had partnered with the police department “to take back our community” and imposed a 10 p.m. curfew. The policy required children 12 and under to be accompanied by an adult at all times and forbid guests from being outside without the head of household.
The curfew, as well as beefed-up police presence, were ostensibly aimed at helping thwart a rise in gang activity, crime and violence at the apartment complexes. The notices cited “recent shootings, criminal drug and gang activities” at the 150-unit Raleigh North and 80-unit Milbank Court complexes, which sit on opposite sides of North Raleigh Boulevard near Lions Park.
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But Irena Como, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation in Raleigh, sent a letter to the property manager of the complexes saying the organization had received complaints about the curfew from residents, who all receive federal housing subsidies from the HUD to pay their rent.
After comparing the lease of one of the tenants with the conditions of the curfew, Como wrote that the 10 p.m. curfew was excessive and unreasonable and “interfered with the residents’ First Amendment right to association and due process rights related to their freedom of movement.”
Como also wrote that posting the notice on tenants’ doors without prior notice violated a condition of the HUD lease, which states residents must receive written notice of a rule change at least 30 days before enforcement begins. She also noted that leases allow guests to be outside on the property, unaccompanied.
Plus, she said, the curfew policy was “ambiguous” and left several residents confused.
“When loss of subsidy or eviction is the potential result, House Rules cannot leave residents with so much uncertainty,” Como wrote.
Como’s letter to Treetop was dated June 26. Four days later, the curfew was lifted.
In a statement, the company said: “All management decisions made at Raleigh North are geared toward improving the quality of life for our residents, and the implementation of the curfew was intended to do just that. However, after receiving feedback and having further discussions with the property’s management team, we concluded that the majority of residents preferred that the curfew be rescinded.”