Tangible First Step in LA to end Veteran Homelessness

picture of homeless man

by Robert Stretch on February 21, 2011

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it’s collaborating with Los Angeles government officials and nonprofits to launch a pilot program to help homeless veterans. The Los Angeles Times reported that about 15 percent of the 48,000 homeless persons on L.A.’s streets are veterans.

Similar to Project 50, executed by Los Angeles County, the VA’s pilot targets 60 chronically homeless veterans. Chronically homeless persons have been homeless for at least a year and have a mental illness, addiction or physical ailment. About 1,400 chronically homeless veterans reside in the L.A., according to the Times.
The pilot aims to aid 60 of the most vulnerable veterans in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Van Nuys and Venice. All of these areas used surveys to identify homeless veterans who are prone to die while living on the streets.

Vets to Home Project 60 will provide these veterans with a permanent home and offer medical care, counseling, job training, rehabilitation and other services. There is no requirement to get sober to earn housing, causing opponents of the program to question its effectiveness. But proponents advocate that shelter is the crux for chronically homeless veterans to turn their lives around.

So far 11 veterans are in apartments where they receive case management. Another 14 are applying for housing vouchers, and three live in transitional housing. Ocean Park Community Center, San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, St. Joseph Center and Step Up on Second are the nonprofits working with the VA to provide services and housing vouchers.

L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said these veterans deserve this help. He also said VA’s vast resources could help immensely in the fight against veteran homelessness. So far, Vets to Home Project 60 has not generated new funding. Nevertheless cooperation among local, city and federal VA officials and other homeless services is a step in the right direction.

Photo thanks to iheartfishtown under creative common license on Flickr.

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