Last Nov. 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department teamed up to move roughly 40 homeless veterans living along a sidewalk to the property of the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus, right next to their former encampment known as Veterans Row.
At the time, VA Secretary Denis McDonough vowed to house another 500 homeless vets in the city by Dec. 31. The department succeeded, finding shelter for 667 veterans in a city with more than 3,600 homeless vets — roughly 10% of the country’s entire population of homeless former service members.
“Every once in a while, you run across these phrases in the English language that shouldn’t really exist. I think one of those phrases is ‘homeless veteran,'” McDonough said in a November news conference. “As long as I’m here, I’m going to do everything I possibly can to get them into houses.”
But after years of delays, advocates are questioning whether the VA is committed to finding a solution to the homelessness problem, and raised concerns about the use of the department’s large plot of land in Los Angeles. Sections of that property are currently being leased by a local private school and university, and some of the land would be earmarked for development as part of the VA’s new framework to combat homelessness in the area.