VA reaches historic breakthrough agreement for LA’s homeless Veterans


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VA Secretary Bob McDonald and attorneys representing homeless veterans in Los Angeles announced an agreement that dedicates  the West Los Angeles VA campus to serving veterans in need, and commits the department to design a plan to help end homelessness among veterans in Los Angeles County.  The agreement is an important step forward in carrying out President Obama’s commitment that no veteran should live on the streets, or forego necessary medical and psychological services.

“This agreement offers VA a historic opportunity to build new community relationships in Los Angeles and continue the work needed to end veteran homelessness here,” said Secretary McDonald.  “VA is proud of the progress we’ve made in ending veteran homelessness—down 33 percent since 2010—but we won’t be satisfied until every veteran has a home.”

Under the agreement, Secretary McDonald and plaintiffs’ representatives will develop by February 13, 2015, a written plan to help end Veteran homelessness in Greater Los Angeles.  The plan will focus on serving Veterans, particularly homeless Veterans, women Veterans, aging Veterans and Veterans that are severely disabled. Secretary McDonald will appoint a special assistant, who will report directly to him, to oversee the plan’s implementation with the necessary resources and support.

Ron Olson

Ron Olson speaks to reporters during an announcement on the future of the West LA VA Medical Center. VA photo by Reynaldo Leal.

“This historic agreement, forged through the leadership of Secretary McDonald, creates a partnership that will be invaluable to help end Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles, provide needed medical care and services, and make concrete our commitment to those who served our nation’s highest calling,” said Ron Olson, one of the counsels for the organizations bringing the lawsuit.

Under the agreement, Secretary McDonald will also launch an accelerated process to develop a new long-term master plan for the future use of the West Los Angeles campus.  This master plan, which is targeted to be completed by October 16, 2015, will prioritize the provision of bridge housing and permanent supportive housing.  It will also describe an exit strategy for third-party land use agreements that do not comply with applicable laws, and do not fit within the master plan.  Representatives from the Veterans’ community will be actively involved in providing input to the master plan, along with other stakeholders, including the local community.

Attorneys for homeless Veterans agreed to pursue a dismissal of the lawsuit Valentini v. McDonald, which was filed in 2011. Plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Public Counsel, and Inner City Law Center, with the pro bono support of Arnold & Porter LLP, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Harvard Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe.  The landmark case was a major impetus behind realizing the vision of eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles among Veterans who entered the military to serve the nation.

“The Department of Justice is pleased to have come to a positive resolution in this nearly four year litigation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Ending this litigation will facilitate the continuing partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and key stakeholders to end veteran homelessness in greater Los Angeles in 2015 and beyond.”

The 387-acre West Los Angeles VA campus was deeded to the United States in 1888 to serve as a home for disabled veterans.  Today, Los Angeles has the nation’s largest population of homeless and veterans with disabilities.

 

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Comments

  1. Shree    

    Why would you rent out the land meant for vetarans for carnivals! This is just outrageous and a very bad example to set.

  2. August    

    Anything the VA builds on that property is decades away, and it won’t be “HOUSING”; it will be a prison-like institutional setting…

  3. Danny    

    Give it a chance! I DON’T TRUST THE GOV’T EITHER, but I do trust Secretary McDonald. I don’t think he is a gov’t puppet. If I’m wrong, you will see me admit it in this blog, & he will hear it from my mouth. I don’t blame anyone for being critical, but someone is gonna make the needed changes, & I’m betting on our brother veteran, Secretary Bob McDonald.

  4. Julie    

    My name is Julie, i am a retired PoliceOfficer and I live about 20 miles east of Los Angeles California. For the last six months I have been trying to help out a homeless veteran Named Daniel Hershman.
    About three months ago he had to have major surgery where they remove part of his intestines and he was in the hospital for over two months. He used all the money he had and I have used up my savings trying to keep him indoors. (In a motel) The little money I had saved is now all gone and I really need your help to help out this homeless veteran.
    Please call me at (626)488-0263. Or call Daniel directly at (626)376-8800
    Daniel is a very nice man who does not smoke or drink. He is 60 years old and could work as a painter again when he finishes healing. He really deserves a hand up.
    please help!!!

  5. patrick jahnke    

    Another goverment promise will be broken. Some one got richer a senator? Congress person? Inside information

  6. Karen R Scott    

    This must include those within the va, govt. and others purposely causing veterans to be homeless attacking them from all sides, because they don’t like what the disabled mst veterans is reporting, reaching out for help for and complaining about.

  7. Jon Macintosh    

    C’mon, guys! Did you actually READ this announcement? It says absolutely NOTHING. This so-called agreement does NOTHING for veterans. It promises NOTHING. If you think this announcement actually improves veterans’ lives, then please tell me exactly what this “agreement” will do for veterans. It does NOTHING. I wonder if I have said made that clear: it does NOTHING.

  8. brenda hayes    

    I just saw this on another site and was getting ready to post it here!! If the NEW Secretary can make this happen…I might start believing VA Cares!! So I would hope they post everything that is or will be going on at that location.

    If a VAMC has additional land; then use it…set up temporary quarters..,.get Habitat and the Homeless Vets invovled. Use cargo containers to make Attractive Individual Living Quarters; Too many living in the woods, by the rivers….they can be found; it is a subculture all on its own. Mr. Secretary…do you have each VAMC’s plan with TIMELINES on your desk. Tired of talking the talk…get your pink slip out if they don’t deliver. Vetwife Advocate, Sir!!!

  9. Dave La Rochelle MD    

    The VA has the resources to improve benefits for homeless veterans. Creating a home style treatment program for those veterans with mental as well as physicial needs would assist in decreasing both homelessness as well as sick veterans.

  10. Dan F    

    Isn’t it about time? This is just another scandal in the VA’s long list of scandals. This property was given to the US Government for, and only for, taking care of veterans. The VA has done everything from renting the land out for carnivals to any side deal where they could receive income and screw the vets. On any given day, there are dozens of homeless vets around this center. After dozens of years, and it took a court, finally, the VA is doing what its mission is – to take care of veterans.

Comments are closed.