Q&A with VA Secretary Denis McDonough about veteran homelessness in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – After touring the Department of Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles last October and meeting veterans living in tents right outside its gates, VA Secretary Denis McDonough decided to focus the agency’s resources on tackling veteran homelessness in the greater Los Angeles area, where the issue is at its worst.

According to the most recent data available, about 10% of all homeless veterans in the United States live in Los Angeles County.

McDonough started his efforts in Los Angeles by promising to get all homeless veterans living in the homeless encampment known as Veterans Row into housing by Nov. 1, 2021. The row of tents lined San Vicente Boulevard, along one end of the West Los Angeles VA campus. About 40 veterans were living there when McDonough visited in October.

In addition to eliminating Veterans Row, McDonough urged local VA officials to house another 500 homeless veterans in Los Angeles, either in temporary or permanent housing, in time for the holidays.

The VA surpassed those goals and got more than 700 veterans into temporary or permanent housing by the end of 2021. Some individuals living along Veterans Row moved inside VA grounds, where they now sleep in 8-by-8-foot shelters.

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