• Lake County's lone homeless shelter for vets could be shut down

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    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The only shelter in Lake County for homeless veterans is in danger of being closed down because of code violations.

    The city has shut down the nonprofit's Thrift Store, so now organizers have lost a funding source.

     “It kind of disturbed me that I would drive up and down the street and see a lot of homeless on the street,” said Lloyd Thorne, the shelter’s director. “And there were veterans in there."

    That’s why, more than a year ago, Thorne opened a shelter for homeless vets in the city of Eustis, the only one of its kind in Lake County. 

    “My immediate response was we might as well close down,” said Thorne. “We can't do that."

    The shelter needs a $3,000 fire alarm system with a direct connection to the city's fire department.

    “The other thing is, if you go over eight people, you have to sprinkler the building.  So, that's a major expense,” said Dianne Kramer of the city of Eustis.

    That could take the cost up to $70,000. And to make matters worse, the city shut down the shelter's thrift store because it has no restroom.

    To cover the shelter's $2,500 monthly expenses, they're relying on yard sales.

    “Because we're only allowed four a year by the city of Eustis.  So, I'm thinking we'll do one at my daughter's house, my other daughter's house, everybody's house where we can do it just to keep the money going,” said Thorne.

    Thorne said the shelter is too important and giving up is not an option.

    “The government should take care of us, but they don't,” he said. “So, as a veteran, we have to take care of each other."

    City officials said the codes they're enforcing are federal rules, but they're working with shelter organizers to help them comply.

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