LOS ANGELES - For 11 months, Maurice Valerio lived in a car on the street. Now he has his own one-bedroom apartment in a sprawling West Los Angeles campus, where Building 207 is the first of several being renovated or built from the ground up to house veterans who have been homeless or at risk of being homeless.
Valerio said he loves his new place, adding, "it's a blessing."
Tuesday was the ribbon-cutting for the building that provides permanent housing for veterans like Valerio. Building 207 was a collaboration and part of a process that has been in the works for years, to permanently house homeless veterans, with the help of FOX, who partnered with U.S. Vets.
"This will fundamentally change the service system for veterans in Los Angeles," said Stephen Peck, CEO and President of U.S. Vets.
According to Peck, this is the first of 21 buildings on the West LA VA campus.
"I'm just glad I got here," said Peck. "I'm just glad I found the right resources to get here."
Building 207 provides the opportunity for what's called a complete continuum of care. That includes coordinated entry services (getting an apartment), and case management services, among other things. To get in, applicants have to be a veteran who pays a third of whatever they might get in funding, and be 62 or older.
Dr. Steve Braverman with the West LA VA said they were able to get $70 million over the last two years, and, "we have a commitment for 70 more this year and a total commitment moving forward of $380 million over the next 13 years to support this project.
Just nine veterans live in building 207 now, there's room for 59 just like Valerio, who said he's greatful for the roof over his head. He has 11 kids, a wife who is also homeless, living elsewhere.
"I don't have to wait for a meal to come, I can cook it myself," he said. "Take a hot shower when I want to."