Bills advance to fund housing for homeless vets
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to spend up to $35.5 million to house homeless vets at the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles. That money would be used for seismic retrofitting and renovations at Building 209, converting it into a therapeutic housing facility.
The Senate Appropriations Committee followed suit Thursday, adopting an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to the 2012 VA spending bill that endorses the project. Both bills now move to the full Senate.
"One out of every 10 veterans without a roof over their head lives in Los Angeles. That is completely unacceptable and an absolute tragedy," Feinstein said in a statement. "This legislation must still be passed by the full Senate and the House of Representatives, and I am firmly committed to seeing this project through to completion."
The renovated Building 209 -- the first of three slated for conversion into housing units -- would have room for only a fraction of the thousands of chronically homeless vets in Los Angeles County. That's why some local advocates are pushing for the VA to move faster. Among other steps, that faction is supporting a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that would force the VA to provide more permanent, supportive housing at the West Los Angeles campus.
-- Jon Healey
Photo: Veteran J.J. Asevedo raises a clenched fist at a news conference to announce a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs leased much of the property at its West Los Angeles facility to private entities, instead of using it for veterans' permanent supportive housing. Credit: Reed Saxon / AP Photo / June 8, 2011