San Francisco to build Mission Bay housing for homeless vets

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Friday announced a new construction project in Mission Bay that will provide housing for 50 homeless veterans.

That number could perhaps include Mike Lawler, who says he spent five years in the U.S. Navy. On Friday, KTVU spoke to him as he stood in line for a free meal at St. Anthony's Dining Room.

Lawler is one of approximately 700 homeless veterans in San Francisco, men and women who served their country but have little or nothing to show for it.

"The way the country labels us homeless, it even comes into our heads that they have the right to exclude us. And we even believe it ourselves as homeless people," he said.

Lawler says he worked construction for years, got sick and lost almost everything. He hasn't been able to bounce back.

"I've met so many guys out here, they all develop problems. Especially combat veterans," Lawler explained.

But help for some appears to be on the way in the housing development that will go up in what is currently a parking lot near AT&T Park on Third Street.

Mayor Lee, his voice cracking with emotion, announced the one hundred units of housing with half of those spaces earmarked for homeless veterans. The rest will go to low-income families.

"I don't have the opportunity to thank my dad for being a vet. But through the veterans here I will thank him. But this is important to the city and its important to us," said Lee.

To help get the project started, it took a who's who of high tech heavyweights including Ron Conway and Marc Benioff who, along with the Golden State Warriors, contributed $5 million to kick start the plan.

"No man or woman who served our country should have to sleep on the street," said Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.

The city expects vets to move in by 2018.

Former navy Seaman Mike Lawler says he 'd be interested.

"It would be in a vicinity where there are no drugs, violence. I want to study and go back to school," said Lawler.