Summit County homeless children on the rise, ACCESS Shelter fighting back

Summit County homeless children on the rise, ACCESS Shelter fighting back

Apr 05th, 2019

AKRON, Ohio — Akron's ACCESS Shelter is now reporting it's taking in more children than adults at its West Market Street facility.

Access Executive Director, Jackie Hemsworth, said the increase in homeless children and homeless mothers is principally due to a growing lack of affordable housing and wages that aren't keeping pace with area rent rates.

"We're seeing large families, in November we had a family of seven here," Hemsworth said. "More than half of the 400 to 500 people that we serve every year are children under the age of 18. It costs a lot to rent an apartment, and it takes a living wage."

Hemsworth said ACCESS has added significant programs to help with the growing number of homeless families in need, with an on-site healthcare clinic, group therapy and more.

"We have a full-time child advocate here to make sure everyone is registered in school," Hemsworth said. "We work with Akron Public Schools and Project Rise to provide tutoring here on-site everyday."

Angel Jackson is now employed, but is staying at the ACCESS Shelter with her five children, hoping to soon return to independent living.

Jackson said more mothers, who are living on the streets with their children, need to accept a helping hand and not be embarrassed by their situation.

"It definitely takes a toll on the children, not knowing what's next," Jackson said. "Give it a try and I'm sure it would be better than being in the car with your children."

Access Development Coordinator Stephanie Zelasko said the shelter now has a homeless waiting list of 200.

"We still have a homelessness crisis in our community," Zelasko said. "People are staying outdoors, in cars, at bus terminals."

Zelasko said ACCESS Shelter is responding to the increase in child homelessness with a Youth Impact Day event on April 13 at its Akron facility located at 230 West Market St.

Youth in grades six through eight are urged to attend one of two sessions being held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event includes an on-site service project to provide immediate help for homeless children at ACCESS, and a youth-appropriate community engagement curriculum.

Parents can register for the event on the ACCESS shelter website .

Make A Donation

Big or small, every donation to ACCESS and the homeless women and children it serves will be greatly appreciated.

  • $25 feeds 25 women and children
  • $100 provides 50 days of school transportation for a child
  • $500 provides health care for 10 children

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