Peninsula News

Homeless veterans facility to soon close

Friday, November 04, 2011

An emergency homeless veterans facility on the peninsula will close its doors at the end of the year, but more than 100 fragile residents don't want to leave. They're scared and worried about what may happen to them down the road.

There are 7,000 people that have come through the Homeless Veterans Emergency Housing Facility in Menlo Park since it opened a decade ago. It's a place where they can rebuild their lives, escape from addiction and find jobs. The VA hospital and its many services are also nearby. Jeremy Cacciaguidi served with the Marines in Iraq.

"Psychiatric services, medical services and more importantly, rehabilitation services are right here," said Cacciaguidi.

Former homeless veteran Irwin Goodwin started the shelter in a partnership with the Veterans Administration which provided the building and grant money. Now, the V.A. says the 150 residents here must move out by the end of December. The building will be torn down because it's seismically unsafe. These close knit veterans don't want to leave. Navy veteran Ed Mack fought in Vietnam.

"This is a clean and sober environment and we're going to lose that. And that's the worst thing that can happen now," said Mack.

Among those here are World War II veteran Jack Taylor who's 95 years old.

"It's real hard to beat the procedure that they have to get people that are really in desperate need," said Taylor.

On Friday, social workers visited the veterans to begin the process of relocating them to other facilities.

"None of them, absolutely none of them will end up on the street," said VA spokesperson Kerri Childress.

The veterans are skeptical. One veteran said, "Promises are made to be broken and they're always broken."

Childress says they've extended the deadline numerous times over several years, now this is it. But there is one ray of hope for the residents.

Goodwin says he's found an apartment building on the peninsula which could house most of the vets here. He's hoping to close the deal by the end of March. We asked Childress if the V.A. could extend the deadline just one more time.

"If he could show us the paperwork that he's going to get it and our grant per diem folks go over and inspect it, it could very well happen," said Childress.

And if it does, those here say it would prove that the government really does put veterans first.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
menlo park, homeless, veterans, peninsula news, vic lee
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