8,000 Los Angeles Vets Homeless, at High Suicide Risk, While VA Cashes in on Land Donated to House Them

The 388-acre campus at the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles was donated more than 100 years ago for use as a home for disabled veterans, but is no longer used for that purpose. VA leaders have instead leased most of the land in commercial business deals while the city struggles to house its more than 8,000 homeless veterans. Experts say homelessness is a significant factor in veteran suicides. In 2007, VA said Building 209, pictured above, would be transformed into housing for disabled homeless vets and budgeted $20 million for the rehab project. Building 209 remains abandoned and the grounds surrounding it are in decline. (NPR)

Los Angeles VA Has Made Millions On Rental Deals

by Ina Jaffe
NPR, Sept. 10, 2012

Most Los Angeles residents only know the Veterans Affairs medical center in West Los Angeles as something they glimpse from their cars when they’re on traffic-choked Wilshire Boulevard. From the road it looks like a park, but within the grounds is the largest medical facility in the VA’s health care system.

The campus is also one of the most fought-over pieces of property in Los Angeles. The nearly 400 acres are in the middle of a densely populated and affluent part of the city. Given its location, the land has been coveted for commercial development.

View graphic of how Los Angeles VA has been misusing 388 acres of land donated in 1887 to house wounded veterans.

It’s also been targeted as a perfect place to provide housing for some of the city’s 8,000 homeless veterans.

The VA has had plans to create housing for disabled homeless vets for years. But so far, those plans have gone nowhere. Meanwhile, government documents show that the VA has made millions of dollars renting out chunks of the property to private enterprises.

Access To Care

Vet Floyd Summers regularly makes the 140-mile round-trip trek by train, bus and foot to the medical center for mental health treatments.

I been trying to get housing for such a long time that sometime I wonder if anybody’s hearing me or not — Floyd Summers, veteran who drives 140 miles for medical appointments at the VA Medical Center in LA and lives part time in his truck

He’s been living in his truck parked in another county because he can’t afford the gas to get to the VA.

Summers says he wanted to live right here on the West L.A. campus — and he has, for brief periods of time. The VA and some nonprofits offer transitional housing and emergency shelter. But Summers says nothing has worked out.

“I been trying to get housing for such a long time that sometime I wonder if anybody’s hearing me or not,” says Summers.

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One Response

  1. The VA is not working well for our returning Vets and their Families…Suicides are increasing daily as are our homeless. Come on social workers and others who serve them, step up, organize or join a coalition, and advocate for change and improvement everywhere. See our community plan for Change: http://jerryvestinjuredwarrior.com

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