Funding change has local veterans moving out of homes

TYLER (KYTX) - A change in funding for some East Texas homes for struggling veterans, has some local vets looking for a new place to live.

There are four houses for homeless veterans in East Texas. Two are owned by PATH and two are owned by the Andrews Center.

In the past, private donations helped cover housing costs, but when that funding dwindled, the Veteran's Affairs office took over, changing these homes into 90 day facilities. For some veterans who have been living there, their time is up and they're being asked to leave.

Disabled Navy Veteran Michael Malone calls the Tyler "Fresh Start" home the place that saved his life.

"I was given a whole new sense of worth and a reason to be here," he said.

He and the other vets who lived in the homes couldn't keep up with all the payments, so the Andrews Center in Tyler requested funding from the VA.

That funding was for a 90-day live in program.

Waymon Stewart is the C-E-O of the Andrews Center, the behavioral healthcare system that operates the homes. He said, "Once we got the contract with the VA we the staff explained it to the residents that this is a new contract and you've got a 90 day stay here."

Stewart says he's currently trying to get funding for a longer term program, but for now, many vets who are at the 90 day limit are being asked to leave.

"Some guys can get out there and do and some guys need longer to get their stuff together," Malone said.

Stewart says the VA is providing other placement options, but many veterans don't want to go back to shelters, or leave East Texas to find housing.

Malone says, "I'm worried about where they're going to go."

Stewart says he's worried too, "and it also shows that there is just not enough long term housing available for veterans right now."

As about 10 veterans move out, more are moving in, and they're not all from East Texas.

The New Beginnings home, which is the second veteran's home in East Texas, can fit about 6 people. The VA has already filled some of these rooms with veterans from Dallas.

"I realize they're paying for everything so they do have the right to put the people they want to here," Malone said.

He just hopes East Texas vets won't be neglected.

"We have our own veterans that are homeless," he said.

But the VA says they've never turned any East Texas veterans away from this program, and if they apply through the VA, there's a good chance they can move in.

There are several veterans in these homes who have hit their 90 days, but have been granted extensions while they figure out their housing. 

The others will have to move out by midnight on Saturday.


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