"The words 'homelessness' and 'veteran' should never go next to each other in a sentence and yet, far too many languish on our streets," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Traci Park at the campus' unveiling Tuesday.
We couldn't agree more with the VA Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, and LA City Councilwoman Traci Park. We are delighted that the VA Medical Center, located at Wilshire Boulevard, San Vicente Boulevard and the 405 freeway, finally put a worthwhile plan in place that better utilized its aging and dilapidated WWII era buildings on its expansive campus
The Veterans Administration and LA County partnered with US Vets on the development of these units in West Los Angeles. Steve Peck, the president of the nonprofit U.S. Vets, in the news story by Josh Haskell of ABC 7 news in Los Angeles, states "This will fundamentally change the service systems for veterans in Los Angeles. If we do this right, we have the opportunity to end homelessness in Los Angeles. Between the housing and supportive services and the prevention services," said Peck.
According to statistics, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties comprise nearly one-third of all homeless veterans in the United States. In 2020, LA County alone had an estimated 11,401 homeless veterans, or approximately 32% of the overall homeless population in the county. Obviously, a lot of work still remains to be done in LA County to permanently house these veterans. The currently occupied 113 permanent supportive housing units, along with the 3,900 units planned by the VA in West LA, will dramatically impact the homeless veteran population in the county and is definitely moving in the right direction. We applaud the VA for their efforts to revamp the West LA VAMC campus and bring hope and stability to these heroes.
"...what makes these housing units so valuable is that they can be together,"
The article also highlights something that our research has found to be true, that veterans prefer to be together with other veterans in housing communities. Dr. Steven Braverman, the medical center director of the VA of Greater Los Angeles, said in the news piece, "What we learned is in order to help them move into another area, we had to do that as a group because of the camaraderie formed among those folks and that's what makes these housing units so valuable is that they can be together".
For two and ½ years, I lived within a pitching wedge, or rather due to my lack of length today, a 9-iron from this campus and drove through it countless times. The buildings were always tired and drab. Working in real estate I would often wonder how so much land was undeveloped on the campus and serving little to no purpose for our veterans. But today, the West LA VAMC is alive with renewed purpose. Housing 59 of the approximate 3,900 homeless veterans in LA County alone, these units will assist with the ever-growing crisis of veteran homelessness that is wreaking havoc on our veterans and communities. An important note is that all of these 59 homeless veterans receiving these units are all over the age of 62. This would correspond with what we are seeing is the average age - 57 years old - of a homeless veteran. As the article further illustrates, with the official opening of building 207, there are now 113 total permanent supportive housing units available for homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families on the West LA Campus.
A press release published by the VA on February 28, 2023, highlighted that "The PACT Act, which President Biden signed into law in 2022, provides funds that VA may use towards development of the supportive housing projects, with more than $350 million envisioned for use in supporting the housing development at West LA. This funding will help VA execute its plan to provide at least 1,200 units of supportive housing for Veterans on the West LA campus by 2030."
According to the Office of Veterans Affairs and a tweet posted by Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, "More than 40,000 homeless veterans were placed in permanent housing last year...exceeding its target in a renewed push to address the longstanding problem of veteran homelessness."
The actual number of homeless veterans across the US differs dramatically. The Veterans Administration recently concluded, based upon a January 2022 P-I-T count (Point In Time), that there were approximately 33,000 homeless veterans, down from the 2020 count of 37,000. When we speak with organizations operating in the veteran’s space, estimates range from 50,000 - 70,000. Honestly, no one truly knows how many of our heroes are living on the streets, living in encampment communities, or otherwise that are just not in the system. The one thing we can all agree on, including the Veterans Administration, is that the number of homeless veterans should be a resounding ZERO. Working together with the veteran’s organizations that currently exist, we will impact lives for generations to come and God willing we will eradicate veteran homelessness!
Because They Have Earned It and Because They Deserve Better!
Help us house homeless veterans by going to JOIN THE FIGHT | Mighty Hero Homes and learning how you can get involved.
Written by: Derek Layne (Executive Vice President - Mighty Hero Homes)
credit Josh Haskell @ ABC 7 Los Angeles
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