Los Angeles, CA – According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the number of homeless veterans in Los Angeles County at last count in 2011 was over 8,000, up 24% in just two years. Unfortunately, these numbers are only expected to keep rising as our troops return from overseas despite the fact that there is a potential solution available. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs holds title to a 387-acre parcel of land and over 100 buildings on the Westside of Los Angeles.
Instead of providing much needed housing for veterans with disabilities on this campus, buildings have been allowed to fall into disrepair and stand vacant while our heroes sleep on the streets. Bill Bloomfield remembers visiting the facility as young boy in the 1950’s with his neighbor Father McDonald, the priest at the church on the property that is now a derelict building. After a recent tour of the facility Bloomfield remarked:
“It breaks my heart to see that not a single remaining structure is dedicated to permanent housing for our disabled vets when this facility once housed tens of thousands of our American heroes.”
“Congressman Henry Waxman’s claims that he doesn’t have subpoena power to get to the bottom of the matter is absurd. In the letter he recently sent to the V.A., he admitted it was the first time he’d contacted them in five years. Finding housing for our disabled Veterans should have been a top priority for Mr. Waxman, but it clearly was not. One has to wonder why Mr. Waxman never asked the President for assistance on this significant issue. There are no commitments more sacred than what we owe our veterans for their service and their sacrifice.”
In addition to allowing the buildings to sit vacant and rot, the V.A. has also repurposed approximately 110 acres, almost a third of the land, for use by outside businesses and organizations that do not serve our veterans. Current uses of the land include:
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car and a charter bus operator.
- Hotel laundry operations.
- Active oil wells.
- Commercial theaters.
- A dog park.
- School athletic facilities.
- Movie and television production.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of veterans to enforce a deed restriction on the Los Angeles parcel, but it shouldn’t require litigation for us to properly care for those who risked their lives for us and to provide them comfort and dignity upon their return to our shores.
According to Bill Bloomfield, all that is lacking is the will of Congress and the funding is lacking, so he has called for:
- An immediate halt to any further actions involving private use of V.A. property. That means no more leases, no more “deals.”
- A full audit to account for revenues of all previous transactions to make certain they were used to benefit disabled homeless veterans.
- Exploration of ways for the V.A. to work with the California Department of Veterans Affairs to increase utilization of California’s new state of the art 396-bed facility built on the site from the current 20% occupancy level to 100%.
- Implement an immediate strategic plan for the VA to provide adequate housing for the areas 2,500 severely disabled homeless veterans on this property.
This year Bill Bloomfield is the independent candidate running for Congress against 37-year incumbent Henry Waxman in the newly drawn 33rd District. For more information about how one person can make a difference visit: www.BloomfieldforCongress.com.