Editorial
Grading City Hall: How is L.A.'s city controller doing so far?

Editorial

Opinion Editorial

The VA's homeless failure

A federal judge made the right decision when he ruled last week that the Department of Veterans Affairs had misused its West Los Angeles campus by leasing land to the private Brentwood School, a hotel laundry service, UCLA (for the use of Jackie Robinson Stadium by the UCLA baseball team) and a soccer club, among other entities. The VA is authorized by Congress to enter into agreements to share land or facilities with organizations that provide healthcare for veterans. The VA had argued that it used the revenue generated by leasing land to help fund its programs, but District Judge S. James Otero voided nine active lease agreements, covering about 20% of the VA's 387-acre campus, ruling that they did not directly involve healthcare.

The lawsuit in which Otero ruled was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several severely disabled homeless veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Its aim was not only to void the leases but also to compel the VA to provide permanent supportive housing to veterans. Unfortunately, the judge dismissed that issue early in the case.

But the reality is that the more serious transgression by the VA is not the leasing of its property but its shameful lack of housing and support for the 6,300 homeless veterans in Los Angeles County — the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the U.S. This is the perfect time for the VA to rectify that.

The judge has stayed enforcement of his order so the federal government, on behalf of the VA, can appeal it. But rather than pursuing the case, we would like to see the plaintiffs and the VA reach a negotiated resolution that satisfies all parties and provides housing and support services for homeless veterans, particularly those who are severely disabled with post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries or both. There are buildings on the VA's campus that could be re-purposed and retrofitted for these needs.

"The objective of this litigation was to end homelessness among veterans," ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum said. That's quite a ways off. But it's up the VA to show it is committed to that effort now.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • A partial win for disabled vets in fight with West L.A. VA

    A partial win for disabled vets in fight with West L.A. VA

    A federal judge's ruling Thursday jeopardizes the Department of Veterans Affairs' practice of generating revenue by leasing out unused space on its West Los Angeles acreage. It's a win for veterans advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, but it doesn't force...

  • Drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea isn't worth the risk

    Drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea isn't worth the risk

    The Obama administration is being at least somewhat more cautious this time around in allowing Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea. The company must keep its drills from reaching the oil reserves until it has the equipment in place that can shut down a well in case...

  • How Obama might keep the Iran deal alive if Congress votes no

    How Obama might keep the Iran deal alive if Congress votes no

    In my column on Wednesday, I listed conservatives’ proposed alternatives to President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Contrary to what some officials have said, options other than war do exist; they’re just not likely to work.

  • Genetics trumps claim that The Donald's hair is fake

    Genetics trumps claim that The Donald's hair is fake

    Given all the other critical things people are saying about Donald Trump, you might think he would (as it were) brush off the jokes about his hair.

  • Baby on board? Go Navy!

    Baby on board? Go Navy!

    Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced in May that he was planning to increase paid maternity leave for sailors from six to 12 weeks. It was one of a number of changes designed to make his branch of the armed forces more attractive to women — and to keep them once they signed up.

  • L.A. to offer a new way forward for homeless

    L.A. to offer a new way forward for homeless

    Most homeless people who live on the streets of Los Angeles have at one time or another been cited by police for various "quality of life" violations: public urination, sleeping on a sidewalk, jaywalking or other transgressions. These are relatively minor infractions of the law, but they can have...

  • Are there really only two options on Iran?

    Are there really only two options on Iran?

    Ever since negotiators finished work on a nuclear agreement with Iran, President Obama and his aides have been fending off critics with a recurring refrain: What's the alternative?

  • California is falling apart; here's why

    California is falling apart; here's why

    On July 19 the collapse of a "functionally obsolete" bridge shut down nearly 50 miles of Interstate 10. What was the problem? Too much rain, too little infrastructure. Infrastructure? Don't stop reading: Your life, literally, depends on infrastructure. Steven P. Erie, a political science professor...

Comments
Loading

77°