Akron homeless shelter busy as more escape cold; city urges residents to use warming centers

Akron Municipal Court and schools closed Tuesday

AKRON, Ohio - As the icy grip took a firm hold on Northeast Ohio, more homeless people made their way to Haven of Rest in Akron to seek refuge from the sub-zero wind chill temperatures.

Jeff Kaiser said numbers at the Christian Mission on West Market Street were already at "overflow" levels -- an estimated 215 people -- between the Haven of Rest for men and Harvest Home for women and children.

However, the staff was preparing to roll out more mats -- the beds are already filled -- and serve more meals.

"We will spike up into probably the higher 200s, maybe closer to 300 depending on who comes in tonight," Kaiser said.

Jeff Starks, 49, of Akron, came to the shelter to escape the cold, but continues to worry about those still out on the streets.

"It's cold. Tonight, I told my friend, 'Man, you got to come in tonight,'"  Starks said.

Scott Pallo, of Youngstown, said he spent a week on the streets after struggling with alcohol and losing his job. He has been at Haven of Rest for a year now as part of the residential program.

"This place is really a blessing for the Akron area, where many will come in from the cold either for a short-term or a long-term shelter," Pallo said.

The city of Akron also announced that all 11 community centers will be available as "warming centers" during regular business hours Monday and Tuesday, especially for those with no reliable or safe heat source.

Those centers - as well as others throughout Cleveland and Northeast Ohio - are listed here.

Mayor Don Plusquellic urged residents to stay home, if possible, and call or check on elderly or disabled neighbors.

"But if you have no place to stay warm, please go to one of our warming centers. We do not want residents that cannot tolerate this cold to risk their health by staying in their homes without a safe heat source," Plusquellic said.

Many local school districts, including Akron Public Schools, have already canceled classes for Tuesday.

Akron Municipal Court also is also closed on Tuesday due to the inclement weather.

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