At the Harvest Home, a single women and family shelter in Akron, boys over 12 years old are not allowed to stay there with their families. It’s a policy that Revered Jeff Kaiser says has been in place since the shelter opened in 1979.
"If we refer a mom that comes in with children and they have a teenage boy, usually those options work out really well,” said Reverend Kaiser.
Those options include sending a boy older than 12 to a youth shelter without the rest of his family. A choice mother of three Christen Klocko was not comfortable with.
Instead of splitting her family up, they sometimes sleep in her car or a motel.
Reverend Kaiser says although he does not want to separate families, this policy is in place for safety reasons.
"I don’t think they pose a threat, I am just saying that the mom with their children might feel uncomfortable in that situation, these are why some of the policies have been there."
Teenage girls, however, are allowed to live at Harvest Home.
“That’s the way the mission has been set up for years,” he said. "So you got the mom there with the girl, and the girls can stay and as a boy comes in at that age, it’s just been set up from 1979 that this is what we would do.”
"I’m shocked, surprised, disappointed,” said Vincent Curry, the executive director of the Fair Housing Advocates Association.
Curry says the federally mandated Fair Housing Act does apply to shelters.
"I’m kind of disappointed that an organization that provides housing in this community would actually have a policy that’s direct and that blatant in terms of discriminatory,” he said.
Curry says both the Harvest Home and Access Inc, another Akron shelter that has similar policies, are most likely in violation of the act, and they will be looking into both organizations.
“We would because that's blatantly discriminatory,” he said.
Reverend Kaiser says he does not believe Harvest Home is in violation.