SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A home for homeless veterans could be making big changes that could provide housing for vets well into the future.

“Veterans would know they won’t have to sleep in abandoned buildings, or their cars. They could come here,” said Irvin Goodwin, the CEO of a nonprofit that runs a veterans housing facility in San Jose’s East Foothills.

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Goodwin was once homeless himself.

“27 years ago, I was living in People’s Park in Berkeley. But once I went into a drug program and got my life together, God gave me a spirit to help other homeless veterans,” Goodwin said.

Since then, Goodwin has run homeless vet programs for the Veterans Administration and formed a non profit to house homeless vets. 8 years ago, he leased a former retirement home known as “10 Kirk” with enough space to house 150 homeless vets, and provide them with drug, alcohol, PTSD and other mental health services.

“I was convinced there was no way out of it, that this was going to be my life,” said
Kenneth Vernale, who was living under a bridge in San Bruno when veteran’s services got him a bed here two years ago.

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“I got here and they were nice to me. I got a bed and I said I’m going to try to
not be homeless. So now I have a job, I got a car.”

Vernale said he’s about to move into his own apartment.

Goodwin says he can help many more vets in similar circumstances if he can pivot from
leasing the 6-acre housing facility at 60-thousand dollars a month, to owning it outright.

“That would give us a lot of stability,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin has raised over one million dollars through private donations and hopes to secure grants from federal, state, and local sources to buy the property and possibly expand the number of beds.

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Goodwin said going from tenant to owner would be another turning point in his
battle against veteran homelessness.