Mas­ter plan to ben­e­fit vet­er­ans

Team will or­ches­trate cre­ation of per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing at West L.A. VA cam­pus.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Martha Groves martha.groves@la­times.com

The fed­eral Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs has cho­sen a team to de­vise a mas­ter plan, due Oct. 16, for re­vi­tal­iz­ing the agency’s West Los An­ge­les cam­pus to serve vet­er­ans in need of hous­ing and other aid.

“We will trans­form the West L.A. VA cam­pus into a vi­brant com­mu­nity,” Vin­cent Kane, se­nior ad­vi­sor on home­less­ness to VA Sec­re­tary Robert McDon­ald, said in a state­ment Thurs­day.

The mas­ter plan team will com­prise three f irms that will work with res­i­dents, vet­er­ans ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions, elected of­fi­cials and non­profit groups to de­ter­mine how best to use and re­fur­bish the cam­pus. The VA has been crit­i­cized for in­ad­e­quate uti­liza­tion, even as more than 4,300 vet­er­ans sleep on the streets of Los An­ge­les County.

In Jan­uary, the VA agreed to set­tle a law­suit filed on be­half of chron­i­cally home­less vet­er­ans. The agency agreed to trans­form the sprawl­ing cam­pus into a cen­ter of per­ma­nent hous­ing and to cur­tail the prac­tice of leas­ing VA fa­cil­i­ties to cor­po­ra­tions and other non­govern­ment en­ti­ties.

Lo­cal and fed­eral of­fi­cials have com­mit­ted to end­ing vet­er­ans’ home­less­ness in the county by the end of the year. Last week, the West L.A. cam­pus opened a struc­ture with sup­port­ive hous­ing for home­less vet­er­ans with med­i­cal and men­tal health needs.

The team de­vel­op­ing the mas­ter plan in­cludes:

HOK, a global de­sign, ar­chi­tec­ture, en­gi­neer­ing and plan­ning firm with 60 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. The firm’s Cedars-Si­nai ad­vanced health sciences pav­il­ion won a 2013 de­sign award from the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects Cal­i­for­nia Coun­cil.

Walsh Group, a con­struc­tion firm that has worked for more than two decades on VA projects and is com­plet­ing a med­i­cal devel­op­ment for the VA Loma Linda Health­care Cen­ter.

Core Cos., which de­signs and de­vel­ops be­low­mar­ket-rate res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties through part­ner­ships with public agen­cies, non­profit groups and pri­vate fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. Core is com­plet­ing a project to serve home­less vet­er­ans at the VA Palo Alto Health Care Sys­tem’s Menlo Park Di­vi­sion.

The VA said the mas­ter plan would re­flect the in­tent to use the cam­pus for per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing

“I ap­plaud West L.A VA’s ef­forts to re­turn its pri­mary fo­cus to hous­ing and serv­ing vet­er­ans,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Tor­rance). “No one who has fought for their coun­try at home and abroad should have to fight for a roof over their head.”

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