Advancing National Service

How L.A. Plans to End Veteran Homelessness by 2016

July 25, 2014
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How L.A. Plans to End Veteran Homelessness by 2016
A homeless couple gets up before dawn to dismantle their encampment before businesses open in the downtown Skid Row area of Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images
It's a lofty goal for the city that has more homeless soldiers than any other.

It’s virtually unanimous: Most of us believe that all veterans who have served this country deserve to have roofs over their heads. As a result, cities across the country are working toward the goal of housing all the homeless vets in their communities. (Special props to Phoenix for already accomplishing this.) And now, the mayor of the city with the biggest veteran homelessness problem has pledged to join this quest.

In total, Los Angeles County has 6,300 homeless veterans — more than any other county in the United States. So on July 16, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to end veteran homelessness, at least for the 2,600 living within city limits by 2015.

Garcetti made this vow during the Unite for Veterans Summit, which included First Lady Michelle Obama. “The image of even one of these heroes sleeping out in the cold, huddled up next to an overpass—that should horrify all of us,” Obama said, according to Gale Holland of the Los Angeles Times. “Because that’s not who we are. And the truth is, we know that there are simple steps that we can take — whether that’s in business or government or in our communities — to prevent and solve these kinds of problems,” she said.

Los Angeles has 17 months to fulfill its promise, and it’s already working towards achieving it. The pipe fitters, elevator construction, painters and sheet metal worker unions are lending a hand by giving veterans first priority in their apprenticeship programs. And, earlier this year, construction began on renovating a Los Angeles County VA building into housing and supportive services for homeless veterans.

According to the Los Angeles Times, mayors from 40 states have already committed to the Obama administration’s challenge to end veteran homelessness. So hopefully the country is well on its way to meeting that goal.

MORE: Phoenix Just Became the First City to End Chronic Veteran Homelessness. Here’s How.

 

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