SAN DIEGO – A pilot program funded by the City of San Diego is helping homeless seniors in San Diego County. A property downtown is now housing dozens of people who were forced onto the street. Some of them were already retired and now are looking for help.

One of those seniors is Annette Thomas. She choked back tears Tuesday clutching her new roommate, her dog Midnight, extra tight.

“I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I am homeless. I didn’t think I’d ever be homeless. I used to help the homeless, me and my husband,” Thomas said.

After the death of her husband who served as a pilot in the Airforce, she’s lived off a fixed income and bounced from street to shelter for the past eight years.

“When I lost him, I lost everything….I couldn’t afford nothing,” Thomas shared as tears welled in her eyes.

Thomas is just one of 41 residents brought to the property by a city case manager who now reside in not your typical city funded shelter lined with rows of bed next to bed. It’s rather a safer and private environment with a fridge, bathroom and cable television just along Pacific Highway near Little Italy known as the Seniors Landing Bridge Shelter.

“It’s great… to sleep on a sidewalk to sleep in a nice warm bed with air conditioning and heat,” Thomas said.

The shelter acts as a bridge from temporary to more permanent housing; something funded by the city and ran by a local organization called Serving Seniors, designed to help San Diego’s most vulnerable combat sky high rent.

“Their income is barely half of what it takes to rent a studio apartment in San Diego, so it puts them virtually on the perpetual cusp of homelessness and falling over the edge,” President and CEO of Serving Seniors Paul Downey explained to FOX 5.

Meanwhile, just a few doors down from Thomas, is 71-year-old Mike Herrera. He’s retired, epileptic and has lived from car to hotel room for the past 18 years.

“This is a palace to me. I’ve never lived this good. Let’s put it that way,” Herrera shared.

He showed us around his new pad, while recalling what he calls the horrors of living in a shelter.

“You’d see bedbugs, cockroaches, bedbugs, mice. Do you think I was okay? I’m surprised I got this place to be honest with you, I’m surprised I’m even here.”

After opening in December, Downey said eight people have since moved out to permanent affordable housing. Many of the residents who live there are waiting to move to an affordable housing project in San Ysidro under a voucher program where residents will only have to pay 1/3 of their income to live there.

If you’re a senior or know one in need of resources, please visit Serving Seniors to learn of their programs and services including nutritious meals, permanent and transitional housing, health and social services, enrichment and activities, and advocacy.

From housed to homeless, both Herrera and Thomas are soon on their way out, now packing bags and moving off to a lasting home.

“I can’t believe it. I’ll have a fridge, stove, oven and even a dishwasher. I’ve never had a dishwasher in my life,” Herrera said.