BRENTWOOD – Temporary bridge housing at the West Los Angeles VA campus will soon offer homeless veterans a safe and dignified place to reside while awaiting permanent housing, thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bridge housing facility, the first such facility to open on the Westside as part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” program, will provide transitional housing beds for up to 100 homeless veterans, including laundry facilities, personal hygiene centers, 24-hour security and supportive services. The county and the city will jointly pay for construction of the facility, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will offer on-site case management and supportive services.
The facility is scheduled to open in early 2019, and will provide housing for homeless veterans while the VA builds out its Draft Master Plan, which calls for 1200 units of permanent supportive housing there. The bridge housing site is internal to the VA campus, near existing buildings and services, and will not be visible from the exterior of the campus.
The temporary housing is the result of the collaborative effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mayor Garcetti, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Councilmember Bonin, who represents the neighborhoods around the VA campus.
“None of us should be able to sleep at night as long as a veteran is sleeping on a sidewalk or under a bridge,” Bonin said. “Veterans have suffered from generations of broken promises. Bridge housing at the VA represents positive changes being made. This partnership is a down payment on the housing and services the local VA is going to deliver.”
“I’m happy to be keeping our promise to the many veterans experiencing homelessness by taking this first step and building bridge housing on the VA campus in Brentwood,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Thanks to Mayor Garcetti, Councilman Bonin and the VA for working with LA County to get this critical project off the ground. Last year, the Homeless Count showed that we had reduced veteran homelessness by 18 percent. One neighborhood at a time, one veteran at a time, we are working to ensure that every vet in the County has a place to call home.”
“Building 1,200 units of Permanent Supportive Housing through the Draft Master takes time and there are homeless Veterans who need services now. That’s why we are so excited about this partnership with the County and City of LA. It is our hope that this effort will demonstrate what can be done when we all come together looking for solutions. It will take all of us to end Veteran homelessness and Temporary Bridge Housing for our Veterans in need will bring us one step closer,” said Heidi Marston, Director of Community Engagement and Reintegration at the West Los Angeles VA.
The facility is an extension of Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” proposal, which calls for a series of bridge housing sites in each of the city’s 15 council districts. The initiative is part of broad-based and comprehensive Garcetti effort to address the homelessness crisis. Garcetti, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, has focused strongly on housing homeless veterans.
“A Bridge Home is about getting homeless Angelenos off the streets as quickly as possible on their way to permanent housing — and I am grateful to all of my Council colleagues for stepping up to meet this challenge,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Councilmember Bonin, Supervisor Kuehl and our partners at Veterans Affairs are some of our strongest voices in the fight against homelessness, and I will work closely with them to help bring his proposal to life.”
The temporary housing is part of an urgent push by local VA officials who are committed to ending veteran homelessness. Through their efforts, the VA has moved forward with its Master Plan, opened a “Safe Parking” program for veterans living in their vehicles, and started providing permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans in existing buildings. Currently, 54 veterans are housed in Building 209. With financial support from the City of Los Angeles though HHH bond funds, Buildings 205 and Building 208 are also being converted into permanent supportive housing for veterans.
The VA bridge housing site will include two tension membrane structures along with modular trailers to provide space for sleeping, personal hygiene, and supportive services. The construction, expected to cost $5 million, will be managed by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. Bonin introduced legislation today to allocate the city funds and direct the department to begin work. Kuehl will introduce legislation to allocate the county funds next week.
Bonin said he was proud that residents of nearby neighborhoods have supported and championed housing and services for homeless veterans on the 400-acre campus.
“Residents of Brentwood and West LA believe strongly that we must keep our commitment to our veterans, and that land deeded specifically for veterans is the right place to do it,” Bonin said. “The time when neighbors objected to veterans living and thriving on veterans’ land is long past. Groups like the Brentwood Community Council and local homeowners associations are eager to be strong, supportive partners to these efforts, and I am inspired and honored by their partnership.”
The City of Los Angeles opened its first “Bridge Home” housing facility in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month, and recently approved a location in Hollywood. Bonin is proposing a second Westside location, in Venice, which has one of the largest unsheltered homeless populations in the city. Other councilmembers are proposing locations in San Pedro, Wilmington, Sherman Oaks, as well as additional locations throughout Los Angeles.
For more information about the Bridge Home initiative, please visit https://www.lamayor.org/ABridgeHome.
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