LOS ANGELES — Local and federal leaders gathered at the grand opening of new permanent supportive housing for veterans in West Los Angeles earlier this month.
Building 207 is located on the West LA Veterans Affairs campus. It features 120 apartments for homeless and at-risk veterans.
LA City Council member Traci Park represents the area and joined “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen to talk about her plan to house more of these vets.
“There is a significant effort underway to build hundreds of new units of permanent supportive and affordable housing for our military veterans,” Park said.
Council member Park has been working to reduce the barriers that some veterans face by leading an effort within the City Council to increase income limits for benefits.
“What we saw recently was a number of veterans who were 100% disabled, 100% service-connected to the VA, but recently received a cost of living adjustment, which is a good thing — but it kicked up their AMI or average median income to about 60%, which disqualified them from the housing that we were building because the AMI limit was set at 50%,” she said.
The motion led by Park and fellow LA City Council member Katy Yaroslavsky passed unanimously in March.
Earlier this month, the White House introduced an initiative called All Inside. The goal is to reduce homelessness by 25% by 2025 by working with state and local governments to accelerate the effort to get homeless people in shelters. It will focus on six places, including the City of Los Angeles and the state of California.
One of the steps included in the initiative is for the Department of Veterans Affairs to work together with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Health and Human Services to “address barriers that people may encounter when obtaining various forms of government-issued identification and other critical documents.”
“The addition of housing into the portfolio of issues and services being handled by the VA is something that’s really exciting,” Park said.
In speaking about the challenges to house these men and women, Park mentioned the combination of local, state and federal funds.
“A lot of times what we do because of the complicated bureaucracy is add needless red tape … that get[s] in the way of the very mission of delivering the services and housing to the people who so desperately need it,” she said.
Park highlighted the medical facilities and social services resources that are also available on the VA campus, but said one of the challenges is letting homeless veterans know that those services are available.
“One of the things that is most important to me is that we go out and we get those veterans and we bring them where they need to be,” she said. “We can’t wait for them to come to us.”
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