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San Diego Veterans Homeless Shelter Stays Open

The San Diego veterans winter homeless shelter was scheduled to close this morning. But KPBS reporter Susan Murphy tells us, a last minute reprieve is keeping the doors open.

Nearly 150 San Diego veterans will have a bed to sleep on a little while longer. The cold-weather tent in the Midway District was slated to come down at 8 a.m. today, but got a last minute reprieve.

Nearly 150 San Diego veterans will have a bed to sleep on for a little while longer.

The San Diego veterans cold-weather tent on Sports Arena Blvd. was slated to come down at 8 a.m. today, but got a last-minute reprieve from Mayor Bob Filner who said he would try to find a way to keep the shelter open.

The issue of extending the veterans shelter came up last month after city officials announced a plan to spend $300,000 from a budget surplus to keep the city’s general population 220-bed winter shelter open for an additional three months. That shelter had been scheduled to close on April 1.

Homeless advocate David Ross, known as "Waterman Dave," said he met with Mayor Bob Filner on Saturday to urge him to keep the veteran's shelter open too.

“I took five of the veterans with me to plead with him to please recognize these 150 veterans as you’ve recognized the downtown population,” said Ross.

Ross said if the shelter closes, the veterans will lose a lifeline.

“They would all be under the bridges, under the underpasses, downtown in America’s finest city under the Imperial Bridge, or the commercial street bridge because they have no alternative.

One of those homeless veterans, Michael Peveto, said he was repeatedly robbed when he was sleeping on the streets. He said the shelter has given him security and access to medical, housing and employment assistance.

“One of the obstacles I’ve found is if you’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol, you have almost no resources at all," said Peveto.

Peveto said he’s on a two-year-long waiting list for permanent housing. In the meantime, he said he feels hopeful after meeting with Mayor Filner.

“He assured us that he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that we were able to stay," said Peveto.

The Veterans Village of San Diego is funding the shelter for two more weeks until the city makes a decision on whether or not to keep it open longer.

The veterans shelter is operated by the Veterans Village of San Diego and funded by $440,000 city and federal dollars. The shelter provides beds, meals, mental health counseling, employment assistance, housing services and medical referrals.

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