POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014 - 6:11pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 8:53am
(KETK) - Tyler, Tx — Many local veterans were upset Thursday after being forced out of their home in Tyler. The Andrews Center Homeless Veteran Program has been helping vets for the last five years. It is a successful program that gives veterans a place to stay for free, feeds them, and helps them find work.
The controversy is that a few of the veterans were upset after having to leave one of the homes in Tyler yesterday. They were not kicked out of the program, simply relocated. It was a decision the Andrews Center needed to make in order to be able to continue to help these brave men and women.
The Andrews Center Homeless Veteran program has three properties. Two in Tyler and one in Athens. The two in Tyler each have 10 beds, the home in Athens has 14. Since October, about 10 beds have been consistently open. This has caused the center to struggle financially.
"We made the decision to move to two homes," said Judy Whitaker, Andrews Center Director of Armed Services. "That was a good financial decision. However, it did upset people because they had to move from one house to the other and it was pretty short notice, not nearly as short as what was perceived but you know people don't like change."
Air Force veteran Frank Cardinell has been through the program, during which he was moved three times.
"Sure it might be a little uncomfortable and uneasy because you get used to being someplace but you're not going to be there forever anyhow," Cardinell said. "It wasn't like they were throwing you out on the street. You were homeless, now you have a place to stay. You're there 90 days, 120 days at most if you have an extension and then you're moving on, you're going on with your life."
The Andrews Center does not fill the beds, the Veteran Administration does, and the minute the center gets more vets they said the house will re-open.
"If we have a need for those 10 beds were ready," Whitaker said. "But having those 10 beds spread out among three houses was killing us financially."
But, the Andrews Center says they are trying to accommodate everyone and strategically place each veteran.
"Anyone who needs to work who doesn't have income who's looking for a job we prefer if they're here in Tyler because we have public transit and better job opportunities," Whitaker said. "If a person already has some income or they're not someone who can work then our Athens house is out in the country it's a rural setting it's a nice big house and we prefer that they be there."