VA to House Homeless Vets

By Stan Greene

You may have driven by a colony of homeless people living in tents on San Vicente, just outside the VA. Now army veterans are demanding that the Veterans Administration in Westwood, allow them to camp on the groups.

The Westwood VA has pitched tents and allowed 20 homeless veterans to live on campus. However, vets with drug and alcohol addiction are not allowed to live there.

In 2016, officials unveiled a proposal to bring approximately 1,600 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans to the campus, along with a variety of amenities and enhanced veteran services. But the plan has face opposition from local residents, says KCRW.

Aside from the tents, the West LA VA campus currently houses 54 permanent supportive housing units open to formerly homeless veterans. Approximately 200 more are scheduled to open in 2022, with the rest of the project unfolding in phases over the next decade.

In 1887, a wealthy family donated the land that is now the Westwood VA. They specified that the land was to be used as a home for military veterans. During the Korean War, about 4,000 veterans lived on the property, according to the 1887 Fund, a nonprofit created by the original land donors.

By the 1970s, however, VA officials started leasing the property to all kinds of commercial enterprises, reports KCRW. They maintained medical and other services for veterans, but brought in a dog park, a UCLA baseball stadium, and even a parrot sanctuary at one point, to name a few.

A decade ago some homeless veterans sued VA officials over those nonveteran-related leases. Ultimately, many were deemed illegal and a number were eventually cancelled, says KCRW.

Years later, a bribery scandal unfolded involving a parking lot operator who’d rented space on the campus. The head of the lot business and a VA contract officer were sent to prison over it.

Veterans interest groups began to demand that the VA return the West LA VA to its original mission.


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