LOS ANGELES — For nearly two decades, Bobby Shriver, the onetime mayor of nearby Santa Monica, would look at the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs complex in the upscale neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles and wonder why it could not house some of the homeless veterans who had been living in squalor in his beachside city for a generation. Many of the politicians, federal officials and wealthy residents he lobbied greeted the idea with derision.
So in 2011, he sued.
One legal victory, a glacially paced environmental study and years of negotiations later, veterans are getting homes on the 388-acre, eucalyptus-scented campus, a return to the facility’s historical roots housing disabled volunteer soldiers after the Civil War.
The master plan unfolding here is perhaps the single largest potential demonstration of the success stories emerging across the country in housing veterans experiencing homelessness, even as overall homelessness grows to crisis proportions across this city and in other expensive enclaves.