Veterans’ demand for more housing in West Los Angeles to go forward in federal court

Concurring with arguments by several prominent constitutional and civil rights scholars, a federal judge has reversed himself and ruled that veterans can sue the Department of Veterans Affairs for housing they need to access healthcare and other VA benefits.

In a far-reaching ruling, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter also found that the leases of portions of the VA’s West Los Angeles Campus to UCLA and a private school are not in compliance with the congressional requirement to “provide services that principally benefit veterans and their families.”

“It’s a historic ruling,” said Mark Rosenbaum , an attorney with the pro bono law firm Public Counsel, one of four firms that represented veterans in the case. “I think it’s the beginning of the end of veterans homelessness in Los Angeles and the nation.”

Carter urged lawyers representing the VA to reach a settlement with plaintiffs who are seeking to rewrite or suspend those leases and are demanding that the VA produce 3,700 units of housing within six months either on the campus or in leased housing nearby. Carter set a scheduling conference for Jan. 4 and said he would foresee a trial in June or July if the parties can’t reach an agreement.

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