VA makes plans for home­less hous­ing

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

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.

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