Fresno Veterans Home is facing yet another delay

FRESNO, Calif.

The road to the $30 million facility is nearly complete, but opening the building could take years.

"We're disappointed and those of us that are in leadership and veterans are really ticked off."

Charlie Waters spearheaded the effort to get the Fresno Veterans Home built. Originally, it was supposed to open this summer. But, the state's budget problems got in the way and continue to do so.

Despite the Senate Budget Subcommittee voting last month to reinstate funding, the Governor's revised budget doesn't include any money at all.

Charlie Waters said, "They were giving us hope. Like, they said we'd be open in a year. Now, my god, they don't know when we're gonna open."

Either way, it's costing the state money.

Each month the Fresno Veterans' Home sits empty, taxpayers shell out $161 thousand for basic upkeep. That includes things like two full-time security guards, grounds keeping, plumbing and electricity.

That equals out to just under $2 million a year, compared to the $48 million it would cost if the facility was fully operational. State officials say, the math is simple.

"The bottom line is the state is looking at a 16 billion dollar budget deficit, and the money isn't there, the resources aren't there. It's hard to start a new program, when we're cutting existing programs." Despite the setback, some Valley lawmakers are still putting up a fight.

Democratic Assembly member Henry T. Perea called the Governor's decision "unfortunate" saying he will work towards making sure the facility opens sooner than later.

Meanwhile, Republican Linda Halderman went one step further, saying she will not vote for a budget, unless it includes funding for the veterans home.

Halderman said, "I would like to see our budget priorities include veterans at the very top. That's what should be most important to us."

The budget deadline is June 15th, so there is still time to negotiate. And the concern about opening up a new Veterans home isn't just here in the valley, a home up north in Redding is nearly complete, but is facing the same issues.

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