LOS ANGELES – At the West Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center, things are going well.
“Adding 1,200 units dedicated to veterans will significantly change the game,” said Keith Harris of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Harris is directing the VA’s homelessness efforts in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles alone, an estimated 4,000 homeless veterinarians are on the streets, the largest in the country. Over the next ten years it is planned to add 1,200 housing units.
Combined with vouchers for housing veterans, the VA hopes to see a significant reduction in the number of homeless veterans.
“It’s a long-term plan, because I’m sure you’re together. Part of our commitment is to do something right now for veterans who are now homeless,” Harris said.
“All of these pallet shelters, 126 that we have here on site are designed for our veterans so they can stay here while they work at their permanent housing,” Chanin Santini said. She manages a temporary housing program for campus.
Tiny houses are there for vets like Gerald Jackson and Kevin Green, both formerly homeless.
Green and Jackson are now successfully placed thanks to VA programs. And if this new plan works in Los Angeles, thousands of other homeless veterans across the country could be successfully housed.
“This is the first and only one of its kind. If we can do this work, we have proof of concept,” Harris said.
It’s not a quick process, but the VA hopes it’s the right process.
“Actually, it came down to a slogan for me – allow yourself to help,” Jackson said.