Homeless Vets in LA Challenge the VA – VA Benefits Blog

Homeless Vets in LA Take Things into Their Own Hands

homeless man

by Levi Newman on June 9, 2011

The homeless population in Los Angeles is one of the most talked about veteran homeless populations in the country.  That is because it is one of the fastest growing homeless populations in the country.  In the past year or so, some folks at the ACLU started raising some ethical questions about a 390 acre plot of land owned by the LA Veterans Affairs office.  This land was donated to the VA in 1888.  The original owners of the land stated usage intentions when they deeded the property over to the VA.

Of course “usage” needs will have changed from 1888 to now, but the intent is constant.  Help veterans.  More specifically, the land was supposed to be used to provide housing for wounded veterans.  Any veteran will tell you that the definition of “wounded” has certainly changed over the past 130 years.

The status of this land though, is not quite a oasis for veterans.  For the first 100 years or so, the land was used as intended.  Around the 1970’s the VA vacated buildings (which are still there today, abandoned) and changed how the land area was being used.  Among these uses are leases of property sections to commercial companies ranging from car rental agencies to the large hotel chain, Marriott.  Also built on this property are a golf course, a dog walking area, and a baseball stadium for the nearby university.  It will be surprising if the defense produces any valid defense other than that they are using the rental income to pay for other veterans’ programs.  (This is, of course, my opinion, not actual news.  We’ll keep you informed of what they actually try to use as a defense strategy.)

Mark Rosenbaum, one of the lawyers representing a group of veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, believes that even with an estimated 76,000 homeless veterans in LA (as of 2 years ago), the VA could eliminate veterans homelessness in LA if they used this land appropriately and smartly.  He additionally says that the buildings and rental car parking lots could be “made suitable for these veterans in less than the five or so months it took to plan and invade Iraq.”

A drawback to the lawsuit is that it is not all-encompassing.  If successful, the lawsuit will only provide for a requirement that housing be provided for veterans deemed to be mentally disabled, not all homeless veterans.

Photo thanks to SamPac under creative common license on Flickr.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

MIchael Meadows June 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm

This is one of the most worthy causes I have heard of in a long time. I am faced with homelessness monthly and somehow squeak by, but these brothers and sisters of mine need some help. I wonder if this does take a turn towards helping them if the FEMA trailers from Katrina are still stockpiled? What a wonderful place to put them and help these brave troops get back on their feet. Just an idea!

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Phillip June 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

This site needs to be complained about….and taken off for falsafying information and using the VA as their back drop to SELL things that have nothing to do with the Veterans Administration……. Federal falsification is a Federal offence and can get serious jail time for this kind of thing! The VA is a free information site for Veterans and their famlies……. I truely think the Veterans Administration (VA) would have a serious problem using their NAMESAKE for your advertising ……. I posted this site on my site and have gotten many complaints as to you SELLING information to Veterans……. your site and my comments WILL be sent to the Veterans Administration along with the complaints……

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Audrey Beebe June 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

Phillip,
We are sorry that you feel we falsify information. If you are speaking of this article specifically, I wish to direct you to these following articles, from respected news sources, from which we compiled our information:

From the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/us/09veterans.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=us
From the LA Times:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/06/homeless-vets-file-suit-against-va-for-failing-to-provide-adequate-housing-at-west-la-campus.html
From Forbes, va the Associated Press
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/06/08/general-us-homeless-veterans-lawsuit_8506634.html

Anything that was mere opinion, I directly stated so in parentheses.
If you have further conflicts about any factual information on our blog, from any article, I’ll be happy to help.

It is true that we are privately funded by a mortgage company that specializes in VA home loans. We do not claim to be part of the VA. Furthermore, while our funding comes from a for-profit company, this blog is here in a non-profit manner to simply foster the community we all care about. If anyone has claimed we have charged for the information we provide, I sincerely hope that it was a typo or other mistake that named us as the perpetrators.

Please ask about any other concerns you may have.

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