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'It's scary': Crestwood Apartment tenant struggles to find new housing after the city condemned the building

Tenants were told they have until Monday, Aug. 16 to vacate the complex.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Dozens of Davenport renters and their families have until Aug. 16 to vacate their current home at the Crestwood Apartments. 

City of Davenport officials ordered the building on E. 37th Street be vacated after a follow-up inspection on Aug. 2 found previous code violations hadn't been corrected.

One tenant, Danicka Melhorn, has lived in the apartments for three and a half years with her husband and three young children. 

"We noticed pretty soon after we moved in that things just weren't up to par," she said.

Melhorn said when they moved in, the kitchen cabinets were hanging off the ceiling and there's a concrete floor in her kid's room instead of carpet. She said maintenance requests were ignored or they were constantly given excuses. 

"They acknowledged they received them, but it was like, 'Oh, well, we're working on this' or 'Oh, we're working on that. I haven't gotten the approval yet for this,'" Melhorn said. "Then it was, 'Oh, well the store didn't have the carpet for me.' It was just never done, and I mean, three and a half years is more than enough time."

She added that the walls are all waterlogged and filled with mold, which she believes is the reason for her three-year-old son's recent health problems. One day she thought he was choking because he was having trouble breathing and she took him to the ER. 

"They couldn't find nothing wrong with him," Melhorn said. "They did chest X-rays, they did pictures, they did blood work, the urine, everything came back fine."

After two more ER trips within 24 hours, her son ended up in a hospital in Iowa City. 

"His O2 was so low," she said. "It wasn't like he had a flu or virus or something like that. It was literally something in his life, and I think it's the mold in this place."

Melhorn said their upstairs neighbor is having a similar health issue. 

As of Tuesday, many of the tenants had already moved out of their apartments, but Melhorn is still living there with her family. She's been struggling to find somewhere else to live and doesn't know what she's going to do on Monday. It's been stressful and scary for her.

"We can't find nobody to take us," she said. "We either have to have three to four times the rent, we have to have six months of employment, which has been hard because we've been stay at home parents to three kids."  

The Salvation Army has been helping tenants find temporary housing. Kelle Larned, the Program and Operations Director, said they're offering tenants double the security deposit and three months of rent if they can find a place to live, or they can stay in a hotel for three to four months. Due to COVID, the Salvation Army extended their usual 30 days. 

Larned said ten families have moved into the hotel shelter and they're currently working with 22 families to help them move into new apartments or houses. She added that it's been difficult for people to find somewhere to move. 

"The issue is, is there's not enough affordable housing in the Quad Cities, and so not everybody is finding a place to go," Larned said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg of what's happening. Affordable housing was an issue before COVID. COVID has made that 100% worse of affordable housing, and people need to realize that this is a crisis of affordable housing, that if people can't find something, they're literally on the streets." 

Melhorn is worried this could be her family.

"Pretty sure me and a bunch of other people are going to be on the street," she said.

Taped outside the apartments is an official notice to vacate. It reads, in part:

"An inspection was conducted at the above captioned address and code violations/conditions were found to exist which rendered the building substandard under the Davenport Municipal Code. An Official Notice listing all conditions/code violations found was issued to the owner/manager ordering all violations be corrected before the deadline given. A re-inspection found the conditions/violations have not been corrected; therefore the building/unit has been tagged/ordered vacated. If the building/unit is occupied past the ordered vacated date stated below, you are subject to a $250.00 penalty fee plus $10.00 per day the building/unit remains occupied. Once the building/unit is vacated, all fees owed must be paid in full and all code violations must be corrected/approved prior to occupancy being permitted."

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