New complex in Merced helping homeless veterans

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Instead of walking the streets of Merced, some veterans are now walking home to the Hope for Veterans apartment building.

Merced County Rescue Mission CEO Bruce Metcalf stands tall among veterans like John Kollmann, who is recovering from spinal cord surgery.

"I'm just so glad to be back in my hometown to start walking again," Kollmann said. "You know, back on my feet because I lost everything.

The new 10-unit veterans building is now complete on a five-acre complex that serves families who have nowhere to go.

Ruben Velasquez was living on the streets with his dog, Cinnamon.

"I didn't know where I was going to go, what I was going to do and I found this place," he said. "They found me actually and I'm grateful for it."

Merced County has identified at least 30 homeless veterans. These apartments were designed to give some of them a fresh start.

"The veterans building is permanent supportive housing where they can stay for a month or two or for the rest of their lives," Metcalf said.

Veterans have access to support services, daily meals and the simple comforts of home - a TV and a bed.

"It's great," Velasquez said. "One of the most wonderful things that have happened in my life."

In the past year, Merced City and County have increased the number of facilities used to house the homeless from two to 26.

"Well, I made it," Kollmann said. "I'm here and I'm making strides every day."

Metcalf says it was a priority to give more veterans a place to stay.

"People who have served us, now we can serve them," he said.

The Hope for Veteran building is part of the Merced Rescue Mission campus.

It includes a navigation center, which provides shelter and services to those experiencing homelessness.
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