The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved $20 million in funding Tuesday for veterans housing and a peer-to-peer network to help veterans find housing and other resources.
Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger co-authored the motion, following up on a February vote to consider creating a network of veterans helping fellow veterans.
"We can never repay our brave men and women for their service to our country, but the least we can do is make sure they have the support they need to lead lives of dignity and purpose," Ridley-Thomas said.
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The peer-to-peer network will receive $5 million with the rest used to develop permanent supportive housing for veterans with mental health issues and housing challenges.
"This action establishes a network which enables our veterans to help fellow veterans access vital resources, including mental health services, substance abuse treatment and housing," Barger said.
"Meaningful peer-to-peer interaction and engagement -- paired with supportive services and housing tailored for veterans' needs -- will result in improved outcomes for those who have served."
Veterans and their families spoke out in support of the motion.
Tess Banko, a Marine Corps veteran whose husband committed suicide while on active duty, told the board that the network would help "tighten the fabric of community in ways that are vital for veterans like me."
Nearly 5,000 veterans were homeless countywide in 2017, with roughly 3,500 living on the street, according to a point-in-time count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
"It's time for us to redouble our efforts," Ridley-Thomas said.