San Jose facility houses homeless veterans

The Veterans Housing Facility of the Silicon Valley.

On this Memorial Day, there is a refuge in San Jose for veterans who are homeless. The emergency shelter was forced to shut its doors several years ago. Now, it's in a new place but with the same mission to help down and out veterans.

There were barbequed hot links, chicken and all the trimmings on Monday at the homeless veterans emergency housing residence now known as the Veterans Housing Facility of the Silicon Valley.

The name and location may have changed but not the makeup of the service men and women there. All were once homeless.

"It's very embarrassing and it's hard to recover from that," said Navy veteran Kelly Mahoney.

Mahoney lived in a car. Now, the facility is her home; a comfortable unit which she shares with a roommate.

"And, it's a safe, sober, clean environment and that's very important," she said.

The original facility closed more than two years ago. It was on Veterans Administration property. The building was torn down because it was seismically unsafe.

About 150 residents were forced out. Most of them were moved to other facilities. But, many went back on the streets. Marine corporal Wendell Johnson was one of them.

"I lived under a bridge and when Irvin re-opened, I came here," said Johnson.

It was a promise Irvin Goodwin made to his residents. Goodwin, himself once a homeless vet, founded the program in 2000.

He told residents he would find another place. Goodwin found a former retirement home and it took eight months and $250,000 to renovate. There are now a 130 veterans living there.

Richard Lewis works in the kitchen as a cook. He lost his home when he lost his job.

"The things that we did, manufacturing, stuff like that, dried up. It's hard to find work. Seems like everybody was looking for the same job," he said.

Goodwin says Lewis represents the new homeless veteran.

"That's the veterans that we have coming in here today. The ones that's losing their jobs, laid off, unemployment run out," said Goodwin.
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