VA makes plans for homeless housing
Some buildings at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System appear slated to take on a new role—as housing for homeless vets.
The Veterans Affairs Department recently announced plans to renovate buildings on its sprawling west Los Angeles campus to accommodate homeless veterans—a move that came only after vets sued the agency for allegedly neglecting those in need of constant care after traumatic military experiences. The VA plan calls for three of the 12 buildings to be renovated to provide housing for homeless veterans. The other structures would be used for outpatient clinics and research facilities.
VA spokesman Josh Taylor said he could not comment on the lawsuit, which was filed June 8 on behalf of veterans by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and other public-interest lawyers. However, he said the VA’s renovation plans have been in the works for months. The renovations still must be authorized by Congress.
ACLU lead counsel Mark Rosenbaum calls the announcement “an unmistakable admission that the core claims of the lawsuit are valid and long overdue.” Homeless veterans claimed in the federal lawsuit that the VA had misused the 387-acre plot, which was donated by private owners in 1888 to house veterans.
The West Los Angeles Medical Center & Community Living Center campus has veterans’ medical clinics, but some 110 acres have been leased to private users, including a car rental company for vehicle storage, a hotel for laundry facilities, and an energy company for an oil well, the suit claimed. The site also contains the UCLA baseball stadium.
The suit said the land was used to permanently house veterans until the 1960s and 1970s, when the VA stopped accepting new residents and allowed buildings that had provided permanent housing to fall into disrepair or be used for other purposes.