Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces 'Homes For Heroes' Initiative For Homeless Vets

(FOX 11 / CNS) U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald joined local officials Thursday to mark the opening of a 55-unit housing complex for homeless veterans at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center campus.

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The $20 million renovation of Building 209 features two-person and one-person units, and includes space for training and supportive services aimed at helping homeless veterans gain independent living skills.

Also included is an activity room that can be used for yoga, tai chi and other types of classes; a kitchen; and an Internet cafe. There is also an area for female veterans who are in treatment that includes a garden.

"The facility is so beautiful, and some of the rooms have ocean views," said Bill Daniels, Homelessness Consultant to the Chief of Staff for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

"But as beautiful as it is, it's really a working environment, and this facility is going to help our veterans move to a higher level of independence and self-sufficiency," Daniels said. "It's going to be a real model for the entire VA."

Two additional residential buildings are also being renovated on the same campus.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles, said the opening of the long-term supporting housing building, as well as a welcome center and main gate area, are "both symbolic and literal victories for the West Los Angeles VA."

"I want to congratulate Secretary McDonald, his fine team, supportive veterans, and our community as a new page is turned for veterans in Los Angeles," Lieu said.

The main gate, at San Vicente and Wilshire boulevards, will be outfitted with plaques marking the location as the "Old Soldiers' Home." The gate is on land donated in 1888 to be a branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

The welcome center will offer services to veterans and their families.

On Friday, McDonald joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss Homes for Heroes, a new initiative to encourage landlords with market rate units to house homeless veterans, with a goal of finding 1,000 units by this year.

Garcetti and others have vowed to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year. There are 4,360 homeless veterans in Los Angeles County.

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