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VA to add housing for homeless vets, hopes it can be a model around the country

Homeless Leader-Resignation
Posted at 3:39 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 17:39:20-04

LOS ANGELES — Things are busy at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  

"Adding 1200 units dedicated to veterans is a massive game-changer,"  said Keith Harris of the Department of Veteran Affiars.

Harris runs the VA's efforts to fight homelessness in Los Angeles. In LA alone, there are an estimated 4,000 homeless vets on the streets, the largest number in the country. The plan is to add 1,200 housing units over the next ten years.

Combine that with Veteran's Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers and the VA hopes to see a significant decline in homelessness among veterans.

"It's a long-term plan as I'm sure you've gathered. Part of our commitment is to do something right now for the veterans who are experiencing homelessness right now," said Harris.

"All these pallet shelters, 126 that we have here on-site are for our veterans so they can stay here while they're working on their permanent housing,"  said Chanin Santini. She runs the temporary housing program for the campus.

The tiny homes are there for vets like Gerald Jackson and Kevin Green, both formerly homeless.

Green and Jackson are both now successfully housed thanks to the VA programs. And if this new plan works in Los Angeles, thousands of other homeless veterans across the country could successfully be placed into housing.

"This is the first and only of its kind. If we can make this work, we have proof of concept,"  said Harris.

It's not a fast process, but the hope from the VA is that it's the right process.  

"What it really came down to, the watchword for me was to allow myself to be helped," said Jackson.