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The Winter Shelter For Homeless Veterans Gets Underway

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Aired 12/9/10

The San Diego Veterans Winter Shelter opened today to provide housing for 150 homeless vets during the winter months.

— The San Diego Veterans Winter Shelter opened today to provide housing for 150 homeless vets during the winter months. Today, dozens of men lined up outside the domed shelter in the Midway district to take part in the program.

Homeless vets sign in and dress their bunks as the San Diego Veterans Winter Shelter opens in the Midway district.
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Above: Homeless vets sign in and dress their bunks as the San Diego Veterans Winter Shelter opens in the Midway district.

Inside, the shelter looks like a barracks, where veterans stake out their bunks and fill out paperwork. The shelter is set up every year, and it's run by Veterans Village of San Diego. Andre Simpson is the group's chief operating officer. He says 60 percent of the homeless vets are combat veterans, and many require special counseling. Many of the shelter residents suffer from chemical dependency. But Simpson says keeping them in line is made easier because of their military backgrounds.

"They tend to follow orders and they tend to do well in structured environments," he said. "So even though they're homeless, they tend to fall back into the mindset when we get them in here."

One of the men who'll be living at the winter shelter is air-force veteran Anthony Lightner. Lightner says he's been homeless for two months. He says he lost a job and his car broke down, stretching his finances too thin to rent a room.

"Single-room occupancy places... even a single room is 700 dollars a month, you know, and my unemployment is running out," said Lightner. "So this helps out a lot."

The city of San Diego pays most of the cost of the shelter. But Simpson says Veterans Village must raise $35,000 in donations to cover the full cost. The Midway shelter is for male veterans only. The shelter will be up through the winter and be taken down on April 7.

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