“You can’t get medical and psychiatric services if you’re living in Skid Row and you’re part of a cycle of homelessness.” -Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU of Southern California
An investigation by NPR into the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs medical center on Wilshire Boulevard has revealed that the agency has made millions, perhaps as much as $40 million, on land rentals, despite not fulfilling the agreement to provide services and housing by the original land owner who donated the land in 1887. While several plans have been published for housing projects and other services, no ground has been broken or houses built. And veterans who need housing are starting to ask, “Why.”
Vet Floyd Summers regularly makes the 140-mile round-trip trek by train, bus and foot to the medical center for mental health treatments. He’s been living in his truck parked in another county because he can’t afford the gas to get to the VA.
Summers says he wanted to live right here on the West L.A. campus — and he has, for brief periods of time. The VA and some nonprofits offer transitional housing and emergency shelter. But Summers says nothing has worked out.
“I been trying to get housing for such a long time that sometime I wonder if anybody’s hearing me or not,” says Summers. NPR, 10 Sep 2012.
110 acres of the 388 acre facility has been rented to various businesses, including Brentwood School and 20th Century Fox.
Summers and 10 other veterans are suing the VA for access to permanent housing on the campus for veterans who are mentally disabled. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and several other Los Angeles firms.
Click here to listen to the story and read the full article.