LOS ANGELES – Attorneys who represented homeless veterans in the lawsuit Valentini v. McDonald released this statement in response to the plan released today regarding the use of the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
Valentini v. McDonald was originally filed in 2011 and sought housing and other support for homeless veterans at the West L.A. VA campus. An agreement reached in January 2015 pledged the VA to end homelessness among L.A. veterans, create a master plan for the West L.A. VA campus including supportive housing for veterans, and launch a public-private partnership, among other steps. Read the full agreement.
This statement is on behalf of attorneys representing homeless veterans from the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Public Counsel and Inner City Law Center with pro bono support from Munger, Tolles & Olsen, Arnold & Porter LLP and Harvard Professor Larry Tribe:
This plan is a very significant step toward meeting the immediate settlement obligations. We commend VA Secretary Bob McDonald for his continued leadership. However, we all recognize that this is only the first step and more will be needed to meet the objective of ending veteran homelessness in Los Angeles in 2015.Media contact: Sandra Hernandez, 213-977-5247, firstname.lastname@example.org
The plan released today shows the VA is equally committed to the principle of veteran choice and the Housing First model for chronically homeless veterans. The plan identifies the need for immediate bridge housing at the West L.A. VA in order to reach the thousands of veterans now sleeping on the streets of L.A. County. These veterans need help now, and this plan underscores the urgency of our efforts.
It is not enough for the VA to be fully committed. This entire community must be equally engaged, including local governments and nonprofits, because there will be problems that the VA cannot solve alone and will require real collaboration to solve.
We look forward to participating in the next step of the process as the VA retains an urban planning firm and develops a comprehensive master land use plan for the West L.A. campus, focusing on permanent supportive housing and bridge housing for homeless veterans, women veterans, veterans with disabilities, and aging veterans.
The goal of ending veterans’ homelessness in L.A. this year will require long hours and hard work by a lot of people. But it is nothing compared to the challenges faced by our veterans, either in uniform and on duty or on the streets of L.A. since they came home. Our veterans did their duty; now, we have to do ours.