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El Paso shelter struggles to stay afloat after losing major funding more than a year ago
By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas- An El Paso shelter that lost a major contract with the VA back in September 2012 is still struggling to stay afloat.
"The VA just let the contract expire, let's put it that way, and we were never renewed," said Mario Mendoza, executive director at Casa Vida De Salud.
A little more than a year later, Casa Vida, is still struggling to stay afloat.
"We're basically living month to month," Mendoza said.
The recovery center was first in a much smaller building and moved into this location on Hueco to expand its services.
"Back at our old location on Welch, we were sheltering 15 to 18 veterans. Moving into this new building, we have the capacity to shelter 40 or more," Mendoza said.
With more than a million dollars in grant funding lined up through its contract with the VA, the shelter planned on expanding and housing at least double that.
But Casa Vida, never saw that money.
The VA failed the building more than a dozen items, though it passed all city inspections.
And then the VA let the contract between them and Casa Vida expire.
Since then, the shelter has done what it could.
"We've gotten a fire sprinkler installed on all three floors and we've actually gotten a private donor to redo our ADA ramps," Mendoza said.
"I've seen workers every day trying to get this place going. So I really hope that they can get their funding back," said Cameron Wiggs, a veteran and resident at the shelter.
"That's not right. They're doing work, they're keeping the building nice and straight in order. They're working here, constantly," said Charles Rogers, another veteran and resident.
Since the fallout, Casa Vida officials tell KFOX 14, they've heard nothing from the VA about another possible partnership.
"I was kind of sad, at first when I came here, but now you can see, I'm happy. I have a big smile on my face because that's what Casa Vida did for me," Rogers said.
"Without this place, we wouldn't have anywhere to go," Wiggs said.
Casa Vida officials tell KFOX 14 they have not heard anything from the VA as far as another partnership in the future.