$5 Million Temporary Homeless Shelter Proposed for Westside VA Campus - NBC Southern California

$5 Million Temporary Homeless Shelter Proposed for Westside VA Campus



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    A man with a sign identifying himself as a homeless Army veteran asks for money as he sits on a New York City sidewalk on Sept. 22, 2017.

    Councilman Mike Bonin introduced a motion Tuesday seeking funding for the city's portion of a temporary homeless shelter to be located on the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration campus.

    Under a partnership, the city and county of Los Angeles will split the cost of the construction of the $5 million facility, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide on-site services.

    "None of us should be able to sleep at night as long as a veteran is sleeping on a sidewalk or under a bridge," Bonin said. "Veterans have suffered from generations of broken promises. Bridge housing at the VA represents positive changes being made. This partnership is a down-payment on the housing and services the local VA is going to deliver."

    The facility to be located on the grounds of the VA campus will provide transitional housing beds for up to 100 homeless veterans, along with laundry facilities, personal hygiene centers, 24-hour security and supportive services.

    The facility is scheduled to open in early 2019, and will be one of several new programs and facilities at the site aimed at helping homeless vets.

    The VA is also working on its Draft Master Plan, which calls for 1,200 units of permanent supportive housing on the Westside campus. The VA also has opened a "safe parking" program for veterans living in their vehicles, and started providing permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans in existing buildings, with 54 veterans currently housed in Building 209. With financial support from the city through HHH bond funds, two other buildings are also being converted into permanent supportive housing for veterans.

    "Building 1,200 units of permanent supportive housing through the Draft Master takes time and there are homeless veterans who need services now. That's why we are so excited about this partnership with the county and city of L.A," said Heidi Marston, director of community engagement and reintegration at the West Los Angeles VA. "It is our hope that this effort will demonstrate what can be done when we all come together looking for solutions. It will take all of us to end veteran homelessness and temporary bridge housing for our veterans in need will bring us one step closer."

    The facility will be part of Mayor Eric Garcetti's "A Bridge Home" program, which calls for temporary homeless facilities in each of the city's 15 council districts. One temporary facility in Councilman Jose Huizar's district near the El Pueblo Historic Monument has already opened, with other sites at various stages of development.

    "I'm happy to be keeping our promise to the many veterans experiencing homelessness by taking this first step and building bridge housing on the VA campus in Brentwood," county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

    "Thanks to Mayor Garcetti, Councilman Bonin and the VA for working with L.A. County to get this critical project off the ground. Last year, the homeless count showed that we had reduced veteran homelessness by 18 percent. One neighborhood at a time, one veteran at a time, we are working to ensure that every vet in the county has a place to call home."

    The VA bridge housing site will include two tension membrane structures along with modular trailers, and will not be visible from the exterior of the VA campus, according to Bonin's motion.

    "A Bridge Home is about getting homeless Angelenos off the streets as quickly as possible on their way to permanent housing -- and I am grateful to all of my council colleagues for stepping up to meet this challenge," Garcetti said. "Councilmember Bonin, Supervisor Kuehl and our partners at Veterans Affairs are some of our strongest voices in the fight against homelessness, and I will work closely with them to help bring his proposal to life."

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