On any given night in America, there are approximately 3,700 Veterans who go to sleep without a home, with one out of ten of them living in Los Angeles County. VA leadership is committed to ending the crisis of Veteran homelessness through a housing-first model.
On July 19 and 20, VA Chief of Staff Tanya Bradsher visited the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System’s (VAGLAHS) West Los Angeles campus to reaffirm that commitment.
“Ending Veteran homelessness is a top priority for VA,” said Bradsher. “We’re joining together with community groups, local officials, oversight boards and Veterans themselves to drive progress on this issue here in LA. Successes achieved here and lessons learned help inform VA’s Veteran homelessness programs across the nation.”
[Left to Right] Sr. Facilities Manager Jose Perez, CEO Amy Turk, Sr. Director of Clinical Services Myong Kim, Executive Director of LA Homeless Service Authority Heidi Marston, VA Chief of Staff Tanya Bradsher, and Senior Clinician Johanna Lopez greet each other as they meet to discuss their joint commitment to supporting women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
VA is addressing immediate needs through ambitious national and local partnerships, such as with HUD, state and local governments, and local service organizations and non-profits. Through these partnerships and with a focus on evidence-based models, VA will be able to lift Veterans from homelessness to housing.
Throughout the visit, Bradsher met with VA partners, such as members of VAGLAHS’ Veterans and Community Oversight Engagement Board and the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority. Additionally, the Chief of Staff saw first-hand the magnitude of Los Angeles’ homeless crisis at the area known as Skid Row in LA’s Central City East.
VAGLAHS is aggressively addressing the immediate crisis with a variety of programs, such as the low-barrier/low entry Care Treatment Rehabilitative Services initiative that was opened during COVID-19 to provide a safe space for Veterans, homeless shelters both on campus, and in the community. One of those is “A Bridge Home,” which offers supportive housing where Veterans can live for up to a year with a variety of available services and leads finally to permanent supportive housing and vouchers for permanent housing.
VA shares the goal with community leaders of ensuring the West Los Angeles campus benefits Veterans and their families in its intended use as a home for Los Angeles’ most vulnerable Veterans. Thanks to the West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act, which was signed by President Biden last month, VA is now allowed to spend revenue generated through land-use agreements to help fund housing, services and infrastructure upgrades, whereas previously revenue was only allowed to be spent on maintenance. The 2016 Draft Master Plan for the West LA campus outlines VA’s intent to upgrade healthcare facilities while also transforming the more than 388-acre property into a vibrant, sustainable community for Veterans with access to 1,200 units of supportive housing, healthcare, benefits, employment opportunities, and a wide range of supportive services.
VAGLAHS leadership and groups they have partnered with on the Draft Master Plan shared their insight with the VA Chief of Staff on the status of the plan.
“We are continually working toward meeting VA’s goal of ending Veteran homelessness,” said Steven Braverman, MD, director of VAGLAHS. “Ms. Bradsher’s visit is a clear indication from VA’s executive leadership that they will resource and support the collaborative development of our upcoming revised Master Plan. By working with our community and governmental partners, VAGLAHS will be better enabled to provide our most vulnerable Veterans with the care they need.”
The Master Plan is a 30-year project, which receives review and revision every five years. To learn more about how VA is executing its commitment to ending Veteran homelessness, please visit https://westladraftmasterplan.org/.
Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness are strongly encouraged to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance. Veterans in Los Angeles can call the Welcome Center at VA Greater Los Angeles at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for immediate assistance.
More information on VA’s homeless Veteran programs can be found at https://www.va.gov/homeless/.