“It gets hard,” says Michael Vercelli, who was a homeless veteran, “You get to the point where you’re not living anymore. You’re just taking up space for existence.”
Vercelli, who joined the US Navy when he was 18 years old, served as a mechanic. His time in the military gave him the chance to travel outside the United States to many parts of Asia. Though when he was injured in a car accident, he was unable to serve and was honorably discharged.
Without the structure of day to day life in the military, life became difficult for Vercelli. He had already struggled with drinking issues since he was a young boy and had hardships growing up on the streets of Oakland. As his life spiraled downward, he became homeless. Seeing firsthand the underworld of not having a place to live, Vercelli learned that homeless people don’t like to feel and don’t have a sense of direction. Knowing he needed help, he got some through the Mather Veterans Village, which was created by the partnership between Mercy Housing, the Veterans Resource Center of America and Sacramento County.
In August 2016, the village opened in Rancho Cordova to help create a shelter for low-income homeless and disabled veterans along with their spouses and children. Starting with phase one of a three-phase plan, the complex includes 50 housing units (with more being built), meeting rooms, offices and a commercial kitchen.
To receive the housing, individuals are placed on a wait list that is determined by the seriousness of their situation. Factors include income, disability and the extent of homelessness. When it comes to the rent and stay in the village, those are also determined by the income threshold.
With all the programs and features offered at Mathers Village including job training, counseling and other resources, they are hoping to help those who want a second chance in life.
“Things are going good,” says Vercelli, who now lives in the Mathers Veteran Village. “I now try to look for the assets instead of the liabilities.”