Veteran advocates accuse VA in West LA of putting private interests over the law


LOS ANGELES – Navy veteran Michael Williams came back from the Gulf War decades ago but says he feels like he’s still fighting.

“We are a small group of people fighting the rich,” Williams said.

He showed us the tiny home he now lives in on the Veterans Administration lands in West Los Angeles. It’s a shelter he got after the tent encampment outside the VA gates incensed local leaders and neighbors.

“We’re living in sheds,” he said. “This is supposed to be my home and look how I’m treated.”

He explains that this land was deeded to the federal government more than a century ago with the promise that it would be used to house disabled veterans a hundred years ago.

But while Williams and others have waited for housing on the sprawling 388-acre campus, veterans’ groups say the VA has been illegally leasing out land to private interests.

“Prior to Los Angeles becoming the nation’s capital for veterans homelessness, 5,000 veterans lived on the property,” said Rob Reynolds of Amvets. “Today, there’s only a couple of hundred and 4,000 homeless veterans – you do the math.”

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