Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Obama signs bill providing housing for homeless veterans

LOS ANGELES — A measure authorizing leases at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs building that will lead to permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans was signed into law by President Barack Obama Sept. 29.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald said “Thanks to the legislation signed today, the West Los Angeles campus of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System will be able to build permanent supportive housing for our most disadvantaged and vulnerable homeless veterans giving them easier access to state-of-the-art VA services.

“This effort, along with increased community partnerships and intense outreach, will allow us to build on our progress in the city where veterans homelessness remains a significant challenge.”

McDonald also thanked the veterans that “provided valuable input to the framework for the draft master plan, now our agreed upon guiding document for the future of the West Los Angeles VA campus.

“You came to town hall meetings, submitted written statements and consistently engaged with VA to create the vision for this campus,” he added.

The framework draft master plan will assist the VA in determining the most effective use of the campus for veterans, particularly, homeless veterans.

The recently passed legislation provides the authority to enter into enhanced use leases, which allows the VA to move forward with the progress that has already been made to return the West L.A. campus to its original intent — to be a place for veterans to call home.

With community support and veteran input, the VA is working to expand community partnerships on campus to offer more services.

Veterans Affairs recently announced revitalized collaborations with Brentwood School and the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. An agreement with UCLA, VA’s academic affiliate at the West L.A. campus was announced last January. Consistent with the Framework Draft Master Plan these agreements secure more robust in-kind services, increased financial compensation, and additional opportunities aimed at benefitting Veterans and their families.

The law authored by Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and Jeff Miller, R-Florida, would give the Veterans Affairs secretary the ability to enter into leases that allow housing and supportive services at the building.

A plan announced earlier this year calls for 1,200 units to be made available to homeless veterans at the facility.

“I am extremely grateful that President Obama signed this important legislation for veterans into law,” Lieu said. “This is a significant first step and now we must complete the mission by revitalizing the West Los Angeles VA to make it a truly Veteran-centric campus.

“With the leasing tools provided in the legislation, our existing coalition can now work to create a thriving campus of respect and healing for our nation’s heroes and build 1,200 units of supportive housing for homeless veterans,” he said. “We cannot solve the issue of Veterans homelessness in America without solving it in Los Angeles County.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the law “will change the lives of veterans in our city.”

“The West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Master Plan is critical to ensuring that people who have worn our nation’s uniform get the housing and supportive services they need,” Garcetti said.

“It breathes new life into the West L.A. VA campus, and will create a supportive space where veterans can receive the care and attention they deserve.”