Vet, 97, Booted From Retirement Home Into Shelter For Ukulele Playing, Other 'Disturbances'

07/21/2014 06:16 pm ET | Updated Aug 01, 2014

At 97, James Farrell doesn’t need much. Just a safe place to play his ukulele and tell the occasional battlefield story.

But the three-time war veteran nearly lost out on reveling in these pastimes after getting kicked out of his Napa Valley retirement home and turning to a homeless shelter for lack of a better option, according to the Napa Valley Register.

james farrell

According to the Register, Farrell’s lease was terminated at the Redwood Retirement Residence in Napa, California, on July 6 because of a $1,500 cleaning bill he racked up, which nearly wiped out his savings. He was also told that his singing would “disrupt” others, according to the news outlet.

"Management would stop me and say these words: 'Go back to your room!' Like a kid," Farrell told CBS San Francisco."No more."

He stayed at a local motel for a few nights and at first, was told he wouldn’t be able to move into Piner’s Nursing Home until Aug. 1, after the next installment of his Social Security and veteran’s pensions would’ve come through.

So, Farrell, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars spent three nights at Napa’s Hope Resource Center, a homeless shelter that requires residents to be sober and to leave the premises daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Farrell was able to move into Piner’s on Friday. Supporters are now raising funds to make sure he can stay in his new home. As of Monday afternoon, the campaign had collected $1,000. He hopes to get $2,500.

While vet homelessness is on the decline, experts say that cases like, Farrell's, are likely to continue to fall through the cracks even after the VA declares vet homelessness “over.”

On one night in January last year, 57,849 Veterans were homeless –- a 24 percent drop from 2010, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The VA has set 2015 as its target to end vet homelessness once and for all.

But advocates aren’t so sure that that goal is feasible.

"Just because the VA says it's over, doesn't mean it is. We're still seeing plenty of need," Steve Peck, president of the U.S. Veterans Initiative, told Military.com.

The “need” Farrell is experiencing is one never saw coming.

“It’s not where he thought he’d end up, that’s for sure,” Carol Eldridge, Farrell’s friend, told the Napa Valley Register. “Fought three wars, worked all sorts of different jobs his whole life -- and all he wants to do is to sing and perform for people.”

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