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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Bridge Housing to Open at West LA VA Campus

By David Graham-Caso, Chief of Staff to Councilman Mike Bonin

Temporary bridge housing at the West Los Angeles VA campus will soon offer homeless veterans a safe and dignified place to reside while awaiting permanent housing, thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bridge housing facility, the first such facility to open on the Westside as part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” program, will provide transitional housing beds for up to 100 homeless veterans, including laundry facilities, personal hygiene centers, 24-hour security and supportive services. The county and the city will jointly pay for construction of the facility, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will offer on-site case management and supportive services.

The facility is scheduled to open in early 2019, and will provide housing for homeless veterans while the VA builds out its Draft Master Plan, which calls for 1200 units of permanent supportive housing there. The bridge housing site is internal to the VA campus, near existing buildings and services, and will not be visible from the exterior of the campus.

The temporary housing is the result of the collaborative effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mayor Garcetti, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Councilmember  Mike Bonin, who represents the neighborhoods around the VA campus.

“None of us should be able to sleep at night as long as a veteran is sleeping on a sidewalk or under a bridge,” Bonin said. “Veterans have suffered from generations of broken promises. Bridge housing at the VA represents positive changes being made. This partnership is a down payment on the housing and services the local VA is going to deliver.”

“I’m happy to be keeping our promise to the many veterans experiencing homelessness by taking this first step and building bridge housing on the VA campus in Brentwood,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Thanks to Mayor Garcetti, Councilman Bonin and the VA for working with LA County to get this critical project off the ground. Last year, the Homeless Count showed that we had reduced veteran homelessness by 18 percent. One neighborhood at a time, one veteran at a time, we are working to ensure that every vet in the County has a place to call home.”

“Building 1,200 units of Permanent Supportive Housing through the Draft Master takes time and there are homeless Veterans who need services now. That’s why we are so excited about this partnership with the County and City of LA. It is our hope that this effort will demonstrate what can be done when we all come together looking for solutions. It will take all of us to end Veteran homelessness and Temporary Bridge Housing for our Veterans in need will bring us one step closer,” said Heidi Marston, Director of Community Engagement and Reintegration at the West Los Angeles VA.

The facility is an extension of Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” proposal, which calls for a series of bridge housing sites in each of the city’s 15 council districts. The initiative is part of broad-based and comprehensive Garcetti effort to address the homelessness crisis. Garcetti, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, has focused strongly on housing homeless veterans.

“A Bridge Home is about getting homeless Angelenos off the streets as quickly as possible on their way to permanent housing — and I am grateful to all of my Council colleagues for stepping up to meet this challenge,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Councilmember Bonin, Supervisor Kuehl and our partners at Veterans Affairs are some of our strongest voices in the fight against homelessness, and I will work closely with them to help bring his proposal to life.”

The temporary housing is part of an urgent push by local VA officials who are committed to ending veteran homelessness. Through their efforts, the VA has moved forward with its Master Plan, opened a “Safe Parking” program for veterans living in their vehicles, and started providing permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans in existing buildings. Currently, 54 veterans are housed in Building 209. With financial support from the City of Los Angeles though HHH bond funds, Buildings 205 and Building 208 are also being converted into permanent supportive housing for veterans.

The VA bridge housing site will include two tension membrane structures along with modular trailers to provide space for sleeping, personal hygiene, and supportive services. The construction, expected to cost $5 million, will be managed by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. Bonin introduced legislation today to allocate the city funds and direct the department to begin work. Kuehl will introduce legislation to allocate the county funds next week.

Bonin said he was proud that residents of nearby neighborhoods have supported and championed housing and services for homeless veterans on the 400-acre campus.

“Residents of Brentwood and West LA believe strongly that we must keep our commitment to our veterans, and that land deeded specifically for veterans is the right place to do it,” Bonin said. “The time when neighbors objected to veterans living and thriving on veterans’ land is long past. Groups like the Brentwood Community Council and local homeowners associations are eager to be strong, supportive partners to these efforts, and I am inspired and honored by their partnership.”

The City of Los Angeles opened its first “Bridge Home” housing facility in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month, and recently approved a location in Hollywood. Bonin is proposing a second Westside location, in Venice, which has one of the largest unsheltered homeless populations in the city. Other councilmembers are proposing locations in San Pedro, Wilmington, Koreatown, Sherman Oaks, as well as additional locations throughout Los Angeles.

For more information about the Bridge Home initiative, please visit https://www.lamayor.org/ABridgeHome.

New Life for Veterans at VA in Westwood

President Barak Obama signed the bill this week, co-authored by Ted Lieu, that authorizes the VA Secretary to enter into leases at the West Los Angeles VA to provide for permanent supportive housing and services including legal representation, spiritual enrichment, vocational training, addiction treatment and recreational opportunities for veterans.

Congressman Lieu said “With the leasing tools provided in the legislation, our existing coalition can now work to create a thriving campus of respect and healing for our nation’s heroes and build 1,200 units of supportive housing for homeless Veterans.” Read article.

Nuisance Motels to be Renovated for Veterans

The LA Times carried an article about “Nuisance” motels, maybe as many as 500 units, being purchased by nonprofit and private developers, renovating them as efficiency units, and then the City’s housing authority providing vouchers for veterans to rent. See story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-motel-homeless-conversions-20160527-snap-story.html://

“Under the deal, developers will purchase underutilized, often run-down motels from private owners and convert them to efficiency apartments” according to LA Times. The city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will cover residents’ rent and provide supportive services, including case management and counseling.”

Future funding is to come from Proposition 41 which has $600 million in bond money for housing poor and veterans.

“Kudos to all,” said Reta Moser. “What a win-win.”

Mayor Wants Vets Housed, Contacts Fair Housing Coalittion

By Bill Hooey, Fair Housing Coalition

A few weeks ago, Mayor Garcetti appeared in the media saying that he had a plan to end homelessness in the City of Los Angeles. On Wednesday, two days ago, I received a phone call from the Office of Mayor Garcetti. It was from a newly hired staff member who is part of the team working on the homelessness issue. He wanted to know if I could come in to the Mayor’s Office, on Thursday to meet with him regarding homeless veterans in Los Angeles. He told me that someone at the VA gave him my name and number.

The fact is that I had met with a veterans group last week because I think if we (local landlords) get involved in helping homeless vets, we’ll get good publicity and it will give us some political muscle. Sometimes it is funny how different things come together at the same time.

After I agreed to come in to the meeting, I called Michael Millman who is a friend, an attorney, a landlord and knows much about the RSO and what laws need to be changed in order to make things better for landlords in Los Angeles. After agreeing to come to the meeting, Michael called Matt Millen (good idea) who is a landlord, an attorney, a Commander in the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A and has experience with veteran outreach programs.

Now, we are a team of three showing up on Thursday morning for the meeting at the Mayor’s office. There was a total of five people at the meeting. There was the Mayor’s staffer and a woman from the United Way. It seems this major charity wants to help homeless vets too.

The meeting went on for an hour and twenty minutes. A lot of great ideas were kicked around but the bottom line, that the two attorneys made very clear is … for LA landlords to start working with the city (after we’ve been abused by the LAHD for so many years), we must have a waiver from the RSO regarding every apartment that we place a vet into.

The good news is that Congress created a program where HUD will pay one hundred percent of the veterans rent. Also, if the vet becomes a problem to the landlord, the program managers will remove him from the apartment. The landlord won’t be stuck spending money and time going through the eviction. The vet will have signed a previous agreement agreeing to these terms. The vet will also be in job training, therapy for any problem he/she may have and a case worker visiting once a week to make sure thing as going smoothly.

It was really nice having two very smart lawyers laying down the terms. The Mayor’s guy said to me that he was under the impression that I can get the word out widely to the LA landlord community. I told him I would do a huge e-mail blast, write columns about this and talk about it on my radio show on KTYM but before…. We must come to an agreement on the RSO. The two attorneys also talked about a few other details they might need changing such as some management personnel at the LAHD who are known landlord haters.

This homeless vet situation put LA landlords as an object of desire from the Mayor’s office. They made it clear to us that the City needs our help in finding apartments to house homeless vets. I wish you all could have seen this meeting. In a way it was like a “good cop / bad cop” scenario. I was the nice guy with the ideas on geting the word out that they all liked and the two attorneys made it perfectly clear that before we landlords get involved we must come to terms regarding a the waiver, because no waiver is a deal breaker.

The City wants to meet weekly with us. I will keep all of you updated. I think this could be a winning situation for LA landlords and I feel lucky to have two very smart lawyers onboard.

If you have a comment or an idea, do come to our upcoming meetings and share them with us.

House the Vets They Say

Mayor Eric Garcetti has publicly said he wants all homeless vets in Los Angeles to be housed by the end of 2015. Janet Turner, field rep for Congressman Ted Lieu, reiterated the statement at the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting Tuesday night and said Congressman Lieu is working toward that goal and trying to get them on the Veterans Administration grounds in West Los Angeles.