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Akron shelter policies separates a homeless mother from her 13-year-old son

Posted at 7:08 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 19:09:17-05

As the temperature continues to fall, Christen Klocko wonders how long her and her three boys can live out of her car.
"It was freezing, we froze. I had to turn the car on over and over to keep it warm in there," said Klocko. 
For the next two days, her family is staying at a Super 8 in Medina instead of being crammed into her PT cruiser. But when her time is up there, so are her options. 
"That is on my mind 24/7, constantly thinking about what we are going to do next," she said. 
Not only are the shelters in Akron overcrowded with a waiting list, if Klocko gets a spot, it would only be for her and her two youngest boys. Her oldest son is 13, and according to at least two shelters in Akron, he's too old to stay. 


"He's going to be by my side the whole time, he wouldn't do anything," said Klocko. "That's their policy so."
At Access Inc., a family shelter in Akron, two rooms are designated for families with boys over the age of 12. Once those two rooms are filled, any other male children, 13 or older, must go to a youth shelter alone. When asked why this is a policy, Acces Inc. said some women might not be fully clothed or dressed appropriately all the time, so they don't want teenage boys in the same area. 


Another Akron shelter, Harvest Home doesn't allow boys over 12, because they say there's just not enough room. 
"Cohesiveness in the family should be a top priority for shelters and agencies that are working with homeless families," said Chris Knestrick, Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. 

Knestrick says this policy likely pushes people like Klocko to shy away from shelters.
"They wouldn't want to go to a shelter because they recognize that their kids would be taken from them and placed somewhere different," he said. 
Knestrick says he will be looking into the policies. In the meantime, Klocko's time at the hotel ticks down.

"Overwhelmed, but I have to keep pushing. I have to do something, I can't give up," she said.