Sitting on a low wall outside the large Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles, Deavin Sessom says trauma stemming from his time in the Army 50 years ago still affects him today.
“I’m disabled,” he says. “My brain isn’t there no more. My body’s not there.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder has contributed to years of instability in Sessom’s life, according to interviews and court documents, including substance abuse, divorce, and chronic homelessness. Sessom lives in a temporary shelter on the West LA VA campus.
He’d like to move into permanent housing. And in recent months, the VA opened hundreds of new apartments on its West LA property for veterans just like him. Three newly renovated buildings with a combined 179 units for unhoused, disabled veterans come with subsidized rents and wraparound services. The buildings are part of a long-delayed plan by VA officials — promised seven years ago — to transform the West LA campus into a national model for ending veteran homelessness with at least 1,200 permanent, supportive apartments for unhoused vets.
There’s one major catch for Sessom, however. He makes too much money to live in the new apartments.