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Once-homeless vets bumped off VA campus

(Salt Lake Tribune) It's much better than living on the street.

That's what Bret Lindsey reminds himself when he's feeling unhappy about his new living arrangements.

But since he and other formerly homeless veterans were moved from a transitional housing complex on the Department of Veterans Affairs campus to an old motel near Salt Lake City International Airport, Lindsey said he can't help but feel a bit put out.

The recovering heroin addict used to have a five-minute walk to appointments at the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center, near the University of Utah. Now, he and others say, it can take up to an hour and a half to get from the former Day's Inn to the VA hospital -- and Lindsey said he has to dodge drug dealers near the bus stop.

"I haven't relapsed, but there are guys here who have," Lindsey said. "And a lot of guys aren't making it to all of their appointments anymore."

Scores of residents are sharing two washing machines and two dryers while they wait for a new coin-operated laundry to be installed by the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, which runs the complex, now known as Freedom Landing. Promised in-room kitchenettes have not materialized, so tenants are limited to microwave meals and some wash dishes in bathroom showers. Their "one-bedroom" apartments are studios with a plywood barrier erected down the center.

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