Editorial: Will homeless veterans ever get housing on land set aside for them?

Homeless veterans, mentally disabled or traumatized as a result of their service, and their advocates waged a long legal battle to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to stop using parts of the sprawling VA campus in West L.A. for non-veteran enterprises and return the campus to the use for which it was originally intended: housing veterans.

In 2015, former VA Secretary Robert McDonald halted his department’s legal bickering and entered into a settlement with the veterans. That led to an ambitious master plan to transform much of the 387-acre campus from a clinical setting, dominated by a hospital on the south end and decrepit unused buildings on the north end, into a vibrant community of at least 1,200 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and at-risk veterans along with gathering spots. The health centers would still be there but the campus would get a warm infusion of cafes, stores, barbershops and hair salons to attract all veterans.

That was 2016.

Five years later, a grand total of 54 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans are open. (There is also temporary homeless housing on the campus.) The master plan timeline called for about 480 units to be constructed by September 2020. As the inspector general pointed out, the 54 units now open constitute 11% of what was expected to be open in 2020.

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