West LA Veterans Affairs campus unveils plans to provide housing to homeless vets

WEST LOS ANGELES -- Details of an ambitious plan to revamp the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs Medical Center were released Thursday, and the revitalization is expected to change lives.

Southern California has the largest number of homeless veterans in the country, but the V.A. campus will soon provide housing.

"It's a true reflection of the power of the community coming together to do what's right for veterans," said Robert McDonald, secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The plan provides 1,200 housing units as well as services such as healthcare and job training. One of the reasons it has taken so long to develop is the government had to settle a lawsuit brought on by veterans groups. Now Congress has to approve any changes to the buildings of the West Los Angeles property.

"This campus has very restrictive laws, so we needed this legislation to help unlock the authority for the V.A. to have enhanced-use leases to build the housing for homeless veterans," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) said.

But it is not just homes, the plan also calls for "building a veteran's community" to let them know there is a place they can come to for help.

Veterans who came to hear the news said the housing is sorely needed. They said they feel for years they have simply been ignored.

"This is history. It took a long time to penetrate that wall to see the severity of the injuries to our veterans and it's about time that we get together and unite," veteran Alfred Areyan said.

The complete build out of the project will take about 10 years, but officials said some of the existing buildings can be converted to permanent homes in about a year.
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