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SAN DIEGO — A North County nonprofit is improving the way homeless veterans receive medical care after leaving the hospital.

Wednesday morning, the grand opening was held for the new Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center in Escondido.

“They’re brighter than the lights during the daytime. They’re really nice,” said Rex Buttrick, 64.

Buttrick gave a small tour of the complex, pointing out what he helped build.

“Very happy with how it came out. This place was a disaster,” said Buttrick.

But Buttrick’s story isn’t just one of constructing a new building — it’s much more.

“I became homeless when the house I was at got sold.”

Not long after that, he was put in touch with Interfaith Community Services, which helps homeless vets.

“Nobody is hiring people that are our age. I’m 64 and my brother is 59, and it’s hopeless.”

But Buttrick was eventually hired by Interfaith, and it just so happened he was working at the construction site, which is now the Hawthorne Center.

“This center provides healing, care and housing for the most hurting homeless individuals in our community,” said Greg Anglea, Interfaith Executive Director.

The new building is two stories and has 32 beds, a computer room, laundry room and other amenities.

It’s one of only five centers in the country tending to homeless vets just out of the hospital.

“It’s something to be proud of every time I see it. It’s getting me off the street,” said Buttrick.

He said he’s living in temporary housing but is close to getting his own apartment with the money he’s saved.

As for the new Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center – staff say the goal is to empower vets and reduce widespread homelessness in the area.

“They come here for a roof over their head, a nurse caring for them and a social worker helping them end their homelessness.”

The building was renovated this summer and made possible by Veterans Affairs and private hospital partners. The cost was $3.2 million.

Interfaith Community Services said more renovating needs to be done, but that will cost more money.

It’s set to open at the end of the month.