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Local leaders are hoping the centers will curb gun violence. Photo: Jared Piper/ PHL Council
Local leaders are hoping the centers will curb gun violence. Photo: Jared Piper/ PHL Council

Evening resource centers are coming to Philly to help curb gun violence

The centers will specifically target youth that have bore the brunt of gun violence in the city and provide them with resources.

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Due to the ongoing gun violence epidemic in Philadelphia, city leaders and officials are planning to open three Community Evening Resource Centers (CERC) for youth.

The pilot program will begin in the Fall and will have different curfew times depending on minors of different ages. However, community groups are hoping to have at least one center open as early as Aug. 26. Each center will receive $650,000 to operate.

There will be a number of rules effective immediately: Children under 13 years old can’t stay out past 9:30 p.m., kids 14 and 15 years old can be out without an adult until 10 p.m., and no one under 18 years old can be out past midnight.

“Young people are being caught up in gun violence and other dangerous activity far too often, and we need to create systems to intervene and provide resources earlier,” Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson said in a press release.

The centers are an alternative instead of having youth spend a night at the police station for breaking curfew. Officials are hopeful the program will curb the number of young children involved in gun violence.

“CERC is another example of the City Council and the Kenney Administration’s collaboration to address gun violence and to improve public safety,” said Gilmore Richardson.

While resource centers are still to be chosen, officials are hoping to have them in three different police divisions.

The centers are expected to operate between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m., seven days a week. The initiative will also get rid of punitive fines handed out to parents of children that broke curfew.

“Reforming the curfew law by simplifying times, removing fines, and connecting young people and families to social services will help us keep kids safe and address the potential underlying challenges that often lead to young people being out late,” Gilmore Richardson said.

Despite the rising numbers in gun violence, the councilmember and her peers are also experimenting with other ways to help children stay off the streets and engage in other activities at the resource center. 

These activities will promote positive youth development and have open discussions about conflict resolution, violence prevention, and mentoring.

“My colleagues and I are looking at how young people get caught up in dangerous situations and working to reform the systems that lead to juvenile justice involvement or criminal activity,” Gilmore Richardson said. “This bill and the new evening resource centers will help us connect more children and families to resources early and keep them off the street.”

Community non-profit organizations are encouraged to respond to the RFP, which is live on eContract Philly to get involved. There is a mandatory virtual pre-proposal meeting on Aug. 11, 2021.

After its one-year pilot and depending on the success of the program, officials are hoping to add three more resource centers to Philly neighborhoods.

For more information on the upcoming resource centers, visit the city council’s website.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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