Rep. Mark Cardenas got a taste of living on the streets.
PHOENIX, Arizona - A shelter for veterans lost its grant to keep 16 beds open for women, which is causing vets to sleep on the streets.
Rep. Mark Cardenas joined a fundraising effort to save the Mana House in Phoenix by joining them in the streets.
"You can't fight for something you don't understand," Cardenas said Friday.
Looking at him at his desk you wouldn't know he did not take a shower this morning or pull his suit out of a drawer at work.
You also wouldn't know he walked in smelling like onions and wearing the same jeans and sweatshirt he has been wearing for the past three nights.
And the nights were tough, staying in a brick enclosure that usually holds dumpsters.
"I've slept in worse places in the Army ... I got 30 minutes of sleep my first night," Cardenas said.
The loud parking lot with nearly 100 others under the glare of the shining street lights with pestering bugs biting didn't make it easy.
The people only added to the noise, Cardenas said.
"People try to trade things for cigarettes, people swearing at us, and people getting into fights," he said.
Morning comes all too soon for Cardenas and the others. After a night like this many homeless people still have to get up for a job and this is why he joined the fundraiser.
Cardenas wants to help keep the veteran's shelter open so they can avoid that reality and it's working.
A homeless man handed over $6, nearly all he has, to help, which Cardenas says is the most meaningful donation he will get.
Cardenas hopes to raise $56,000 to buy the facility time while he fights for permanent funding and he is a little more than half-way there.