‘We’re homeless, not hopeless.’ Local 4 investigates causes & solutions of homelessness

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Local 4 news is investigating the growing challenge of homelessness across the Quad Cities. 

Managers of the largest shelter in the area say it’s a growing issue. 

We obtained the most recent data from Humility Homes and Services. 

It shows there were 13,812 overnight shelter stays between July and March of 2017. 

That jumped to 14,714 during the same period of this year. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; shelter organizers say just last month, they had to turn away 94 phone calls asking for help because they were just too full. 

They say about a third of them were families. 

Local 4 News wanted to put a face to those numbers. 

Local 4’s Tahera Rahman tells two of their stories in part two of her special report.

“I just came here because I love the river, I like the ducks,” says Nick Johnson.  

Just beyond the train tracks on Davenport’s River Drive is a comforting view of the Mississippi…

“I’ve been here for three months,” says Paul D. 

And one spot that offers safety. 

“It’s a love hate relationship,” Paul says.  

That spot is where Paul and Nick became friends. 

“We meet a lot of cool people,” says Paul. 

“Excellent people, people just like us,” Nick says.

Both have different stories.

“I was in the hospital, got re-diagnosed with cancer, I got heart issues,” recalls Nick. 

“I called and my was-fiance wasn’t answering the phone and her son answered the phone and said, ‘Oh, you didn’t hear yet? She moved in with her new boyfriend while you were in the hospital.'”

And while Nick’s 10-year relationship came crashing to a close, a truck rendered Paul immobile. 

“I was kind of in limbo and I came down here from my brother’s place up north to give my liver a break,” Paul says. 

In the end, a perfect storm that pushed them onto the streets at the same time. 

“We share everything but each other’s underpants,” Nick says.  

The two recognize that it’s not all circumstance that has brought them to this pavilion. 

“A lot of it I brought on myself, but lots of it hasn’t been brought on me, it just happened,” Nick says.  

“I’ve written off all my family and friends because I’m just not there; I have mental health issues,” says Paul. 

But it can be hard to find a way out when every day becomes about survival– Trying to avoid stabbings, fights and drugs. 

“I can smell it a mile away like a fart in a car,” says Nick.  

They say they see a new face on the streets every day.

“Everyday one, if not two,” Nick says. 

And they’re finding themselves teaching those survival skills. 

“We got a guy in our flock, he’s 28 years old, he has nothing to do with the streets, he knows nothing,” says Nick.  

And while today is about survival, Nick and Paul say tomorrow could bring a life outside the pavilion.

“We’re homeless, we’re not hopeless,” Nick says. 

In our investigation into the Quad Cities’ problem with homelessness, Local 4 News also sought answers. 

What we found in part three of our special report. 

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