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NYC’s homeless turning to LaGuardia Airport for safe shelter

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QUEENS (PIX11) -- To the casual observer, Rick could easily pass as just another traveler as he takes a break at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B food court.

But Rick knows there is no boarding pass in his immediate future. In fact, long after you have gone to sleep for the night, Rick will take his bag and cart, and hunker down for a few hours of shut eye on a row of chairs in a waiting area located just around the corner.

He’s lived here for a year and a half. “There is no darkness. I mean, there is no privacy,” said Rick.

This certainly isn’t Tom Hanks in the movie “Terminal” and there is no Hollywood ending. This is real life - and Rick is one of a few dozen homeless men and women who call LaGuardia Airport home.

It beats the harsh elements on display right outside these doors. That’s a no brainer.

But this native Australian says he also prefers Terminal B to one of the of the city’s crowded shelters. “That’s why the shelter options are not ideal, because all that’s doing is adding to a problem that’s pretty bad,” said Rick.

We’ve already shown you how men, women, and children make do and sometimes get stuck in the New York City shelter system. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, It’s a system that took in more than 60,000 people on Tuesday night alone.

The Port Authority, having partnered with community outreach groups, tells PIX11, “Working with these organizations has enabled the agency to be sensitive to the needs of these individuals, while ensuring there is minimal impact to aviation operations for the 117 million travelers flying in and out of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports annually."

“No one can judge them. They’re only human. It’s difficult sometimes. I know they’re hungry,” said one food court restaurant manager. Cindy manages one of the restaurants at LaGuardia’s food court.

Rick doesn’t pull any punches about his reliance on the staff here.  He acknowledges it took some time to swallow his pride, and accept handouts.

But this Homeless “Non-Traveler” still hasn’t lost all of his dignity or the hope that he will someday get back on his feet and take his life to new heights.

“Right. Of course, I mean still some dignity and pride left. It hasn’t all gone. It’s just enough of it gone where I don’t care about the staff, seeing on a regular basis anymore,” said Rick.

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