LA: the homeless veteran capital of the U.S.

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LA: the homeless veteran capital of the U.S.
LOS ANGELES (BDCi) – Along with the beautiful ocean view, and hundreds of spectacular places in Southern California, Los Angeles is the homeless veteran capital of the U.S.

With more than eight thousand homeless, on city streets, the city of Santa Monica is home to a large number of these people. Many of them once served in the United States Armed Forces.

The U.S. has the largest population of homeless veterans, totaling about 20 thousand people.

According to New Directions, an organization that offers comprehensive services to homeless vets, many of them suffer from mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder and are substance abusers.

Although, there are empty buildings that could provide long term therapeutic housing to homeless veterans, there are not being used.

The plan to designate buildings in West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs (WLA VA) Medical Center for homeless veteran programs was announced in 2007, and then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholsen, promised the VA “was committed to provide world-class care” for veterans in the Los Angeles area, according to CBS News.

It has been four years since the initial proposal was granted, the VA is still in negotiations stage and remains inactive while homeless vets continue to live on the streets and suffer from a slew of problems.

Most of the land and buildings that once housed homeless vets have been vacant and dilapidated for decades. The VA now leases about one-third of the property for private use.

Last week (June 21) the VA announced a master plan to rehab buildings for vets, but the plan had no timetable, and no budget itself. Repeating a long-standing commitment to care for all veterans is long on proposals.

In May, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Shinseki and Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, calling on them to “finalize the Department’s request to Congress for construction projects, which includes a $20 million authorization for homeless projects on the West LA campus.

The $20 million has been authorized and is included in the President’s budget, but until it’s released, construction can not begin.

By: Adrianna Lobo
Source: CBS
June 29, 2011
1:05 a.m. PDT

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